How to get the perfect shot when you're shooting fireworks
Local photographers offer tips for snapping fireworks pics — whether at home or at the big show using a smart phone or DSLR
Nothing beats that perfect photo of the big fireworks explosion. Whether you're photographing in your neighborhood or at the park for the community show, everybody wants that one pic to remember the moment and post on social media.
Below are a few tips from a pair of local professionals — Melissa McGhee, of Melissa McGhee Photography and Jessica Thomas, of Scott E. Thomas and Daughter Photography — for snapping your best possible pic.
- Safety First. Make sure you're a safe distance from all fireworks. Photography injuries don't make for great stories.
- Whenever possible use a tripod.
- Make your photos more interesting by adding a human element, rather than just shots of the fireworks alone. Try framing some images with the backs of your kids or friends enjoying the show to make a nice silhouette in front of the fireworks. Stay low and tilt your phone or camera up slightly to get both people and fireworks in the photo. (This is also a great tip for video!)
- Try to get most of your shots at the beginning of the fireworks display before the smoke starts to linger.
- Turn off the flash and HDR settings.
- Don't zoom. Zooming in degrades your image quality.
- They key to getting the nice "waterfall" effect of fireworks is a long exposure. There are apps for that! Just do a search for "slow shutter" or "long exposure" to find several apps that work for iPhones and Android phones. Practice before the actual fireworks show to become familiar with any app you plan to use! It will be difficult to get nice shots on auto mode alone.
- Don't be afraid to edit your photos on your phone by cropping or adding filters- sometimes an Instagram filter can do wonders!
- Start with a low ISO (100-400), exposures between one and three seconds, and a fairly narrow aperture (higher number).
- Fireworks will vary in brightness, the speed they burst outward, and the amount of time they last.
Both McGhee and Thomas urge amateur photographers to experiment and try new things. Thomas even added that because of the affordability and accessibility of digital equipment, her studio — and many others — now offer photography classes. For more information on either photographer or their studios, visit melissamcghee.com or scottethomasphoto.com.