The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays, because I LOVE fireworks! Fireworks make me happy. And I absolutely love trying to photograph them. I’ve taken pictures of the fireworks for the last few years, and this year was no different. But…this year, I would be taking pictures of them with a new camera!
For the last several years, I have been shooting strictly with Sony cameras. One fun fireworks adventure was in 2018 with my daughter (and my Sony). If you read my post Fireworks with the Sony A7 rIII…What a Fun Adventure, you will notice some similarities in my shooting experiences. The most annoying one is that I parked next to a small child in 2018 and again this year! Will I ever learn???
But like I said, this year, I was shooting with a new camera. My very loved Canon R5 mirrorless camera. I’ve been shooting with my Canon R5 for a few months now, but it’s still my “back up” camera for the moment. So much more to learn. I got some amazing pictures last week at the fireworks show in McKinney, and I learned so much.
The Canon camera is so much easier to use (I think), and I was happy with the results. A lot of what I learned this time, however, had very little to do with the camera and camera settings!
Things I Learned While Taking Photographs of Fireworks:
- Scope out the area beforehand. Look for power lines, buildings, and potential light sources that will affect your picture.
- Arrive early! Trust me on this one – – you’ll want time to get parked, get your gear set up, and if you’re late, you won’t have time for this, and you’ll end up with a bad spot because all the good ones will be taken…
- Bring a lantern style flashlight. I did have a flashlight, but I needed my hands free, so one that can sit on the hood of your car while you’re working would’ve been much better.
- Chairs! Bring chairs. Especially if you get there early. You’ll have time to sit and relax before the show begins, and I forgot a chair this year. I had to relax on the hood of my car. Not so comfortable…
- Bring plenty of bugspray. If your fireworks show is like ours, you might be parked in the middle of a field. Our field was filled with tall grass (weeds) and mud. There were lots of bugs. So be prepared for that.
- When you scope out the area beforehand, make sure to try and find out exactly where the fireworks will be coming from. We got all set up, and faced the cameras in the direction we thought they would be, and we were wrong. Just because they were coming from a certain direction in past years, that doesn’t mean things won’t change. Fortunately for us, this location surprise only required us to rotate our tripod!
- Set your camera up on a very strong, sturdy tripod – since we were parked next to a bunch of kids running around, it was nice to know that my camera was on a strong tripod. I’m still amazed that it didn’t get kicked over!
- Be sure to use a remote shutter release so you don’t shake the camera.
- Think about what you want your photos to look like when you are picking your location. I wish I had picked a spot that showed some low buildings just to add depth, but we did not arrive early enough to scope out the area.
There was one technical thing regarding camera settings that I learned that I was not prepared for. At the end of the fireworks show – the grand finale – they shoot up so many fireworks that it is as bright as day out in the field.
If you are a photographer, you know that a very slow shutter speed and lots of light do not make for a pretty picture. So my photos of the grand finale are all blown out and look like a rookie took them. Oh well…lesson learned. Next year, I’ll be prepared to quickly change my shutter speed in the dark before the grand finale.
Overall, this adventure was a success. I am pleased with the pictures I was able to get. I have my mind set on what I want to do next year on this holiday, and I hope my husband (my wingman) is up to this challenge. I want to find a location on water or in the middle of a city with tall buildings to photograph fireworks. Wouldn’t that be spectacular?
Now if I can just remember to read this article again before the fireworks shows next Fourth of July! I totally forgot about another article I had written many years ago when I was shooting fireworks called Photographing Fireworks…A Beginner’s Experience on my Ballcapmom Website. Wish I had read this one also, just as a refresher. Oh well…I’ll do better next time. At least I’m learning something each time I get the opportunity to photograph fireworks, so eventually I’ll have this thing down!
If I can help you out with photos for your family, kids, pets or any other fun occasion, you can find me over at Paula Mason Photography.
Until next time…