Monthly Archives: December 2015

Tips for Shooting Fireworks

Tonight, New Years Eve, lots of folks will be photographing fireworks. This post is a re-do of one I posted a couple of years ago and provides some tips for shooting fireworks. HAPPY NEW YEARS!


It’s time to get ready for Fourth of July celebrations and the amazing fireworks show that accompany the barbeques and other events. Want to get some amazing images? You can capture some spectacular scenes if you take a few tips with you before you begin shooting. Taking photos of fireworks is not very difficult, and you don’t need the nicest gear to create great photos. Really all you need to take photos of fireworks is a camera and a tripod. (Or anything else that is stable to set the camera on) you will want to take long exposures where there is no hope of handholding and getting clear images.fireworks

Scout Your Spot: If at all possible, get the event early and take a look around. See if you can get an unobstructed view or if you can position yourself where other onlookers’ heads won’t be in the way. You should also be deciding on whether your photos are going to have just the fireworks bursts in them, or if you are going to include a foreground or background. Sometimes adding the extra dimension of having the ground, water, trees or buildings can really make your photos spectacular. This is where it’s great to have a zoom lens so you can change your field of view easier. Plan your composition, but be prepared: once the fireworks begin, often times they are higher or larger than you expect and you will need to adjust to accommodate it. I have a pick-up truck and set up my camera/tripod and a folding chair in the back. This way, even if people are standing all around me (which they usually are) I am shooting above their heads!

Focusing: Switch your Lens to Manual Focus. Cameras will rarely be able to find focus on fireworks itself. To focus, use your camera’s live view if it has it, and zoom in to where the fireworks are. You can then manually adjust to see when your focus is correct. If you don’t have live view, just set your lens focus right at infinity and take some test images to make sure they are sharp. After you have the focus set, you shouldn’t have to change it as long as you don’t bump the lens.
Add a Remote Release: A remote release can free you up to focus on your images and keep your eye on the sky. They are inexpensive and many photographers find them to be an invaluable accessory. AND – if your lens was Image Stabilization (IS) or Vibration Reduction (VR) – TURN IT OFF!

Exposure:In Manual Mode, Set your camera to f8, and a 5 second shutter speed. Start at ISO 200 and see if the fireworks are exposing correctly. If you need to go brighter or darker, adjust your ISO accordingly. If you expose too bright, the colors of the fireworks will start clipping. You can use your camera’s histogram to make sure the data is not hitting the right side of the graph. Most of the images you see on this post were taken between F/8 and F/16 with a shutter speed of 1 to 2 seconds.
Since Fireworks are a fast light source that is moving, it’s similar to a flash where changing the shutter speed doesn’t change the brightness of the bursts. So here’s where your personal preference comes in a lot- Adjust the shutter speed to match how many bursts you want in the photo. A longer speed, like 10 seconds, will have lots of fireworks, where a shorter speed, like 2-5 seconds will have less. Be careful not to have too many, as they can overlap and be too bright for the sensor to capture causing the colors will blow out. You can also do even shorter speeds for a different look. Shooting under a second will capture less of the bursts, and the fireworks will not trace the same patterns across the photo. Have fun with it and experiment to see what you like!fireworks

Forget the Flash: Your flash can be more of a hindrance in this case because it may signal to your camera that you need a shorter exposure time. The flash only helps when your object is a few feet away, so in this case, even though it’s dark, keep the flash turned off.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!
One final note: Don’t get so involved taking photos that you miss the firework show! I was pretty bad with this so now I usually get set up, take some photos for a few minutes, watch for a few minutes, take some more shots. It is a celebration – Have Fun!



Posted in art and entertainment, Fireworks, Night photography, outdoor

Sabattier Effect – again

I first wrote about the Sabattier Effect about 9 years ago and since then have revisited the subject several times. This is not a rehash of the effect, if you want to learn about it just click on “Tutorials” in the menu bar above and you can get written and video instructions.

Every once in a while, I still apply the effect to different images. Just this afternoon I tried it and really liked the result I got. Below is both the “before” and “after”.  Hope you enjoy!






Posted in abstract

American White Ibis

One of the most numerous wading birds in Florida, and common elsewhere in the southeast. Highly sociable at all seasons, roosting and feeding in flocks, nesting in large colonies. When groups wade through shallows, probing with their long bills, other wading birds such as egrets may follow them to catch prey stirred up by the ibises.

Florida population much lower than historical levels, and has continued to decline in recent decades. Total range in United States has increased somewhat, with northward spread on Atlantic Coast. Vulnerable to loss of feeding and nesting habitat.

Around their colonies, ibises eat crabs and crayfish, which in turn devour quantities of fish eggs. By keeping down the numbers of crayfish, the birds help increase fish populations.
The main conservation concerns for white ibis are hunting and habitat loss. Birds and eggs are hunted for food. When the colony is disturbed by hunting, adults will leave their nests and the young may die.
When feeding, White Ibis often give a soft, grunting croo, croo, croo as they forage. They may fly up to 15 miles a day in search of food.
A group of ibises has many collective nouns, including a “congregation”, “stand”, and “wedge” of ibises.

American White Ibis

American White Ibis

#ibis #bird #carolina #shorebird #murrellsinlet #southcarolina

Posted in bird, murrells inlet, outdoor, photography, South Carolina