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Quick guide: Shooting Fireworks

Capturing fireworks is challenging on all levels, mainly manual focus, white balance, smoke free, composition, and setup. Last week I had the opportunity to shoot the Jounieh International Festivals fireworks debut and I tell you the whole experience wasn't easy. I had to commute 2 hours in traffic jams to only arrive 5 minutes before launch and to find out that the place was so crowded that I couldn't manage to get a perfect spot to plant my tripod. 

  • Exposure mode: Manual
  • Focus Mode: Manual (you want to focus to infinity)
  • Shutter speed: 2 sec to Bulb depending on the scene you want to make
  • Aperture: f/9 
  • ISO: 100
  • Lens: the wider you can afford 
  • Drive mode: Single shot
  • White Balance: Daylight

Consider those additional tips: 

  • A tripod is mandatory to avoid camera shakes. You cannot achieve the results handheld.
  • To assist you with Manual focusing, use autofocus on the first rocket splash, then switch to Manual thereon. 
  • In this case only I wished I had a cable release instead of using the 2 sec timer. The shutter cable release would have been quicker.
  • To capture the maximum number of air bursts, start the exposure just as you see the fireworks depart from the ground.
  • In post-processing, increase clarity and sharpness or make use of Photoshop layers to sharpen the point of interest only. 
  • You can also use Photoshop to make a compositing scene with multiple photos taken.