Friday, July 2, 2010

Freedom, baby


It is almost Independence Day.

Which for most of America, means stuffing ourselves silly with fried chicken, potato chips, watermelon, and flag-shaped desserts. It also the time where we gather as a nation, sit on blankets, and watch explosive lights in the night sky.

By no means do I make a mockery of these sacred American traditions. I embrace them with my whole heart. I just find it funny every year that the way in which we choose to celebrate our freedom is pigging out and blowing stuff up.

I guess it doesn't get more American than that though, does it?

ANYhoo, I am once again toting my camera to our favorite fireworks spot and will be attempting to capture some of the spectacular colors. And because I'm so nice, I'm going to teach you all how to do it, too.


First step is to turn your camera to the manual setting. That means NOT shooting in the auto or "green button" mode. [While you're scratching your head in awe going, "Wow, I wondered what that big M was for", get this book, learn how to always shoot in manual, and start thinking of ways to beg my forgiveness.]

Your aperture or f-stop shouldn't be too wide open, anywhere from f-8 to f-16 would work well. The lights are very bright, and you don't want all of that light hitting your sensor and blowing the photo out. I use a low ISO, about 100 or so. The shutter speed is going to be very slow. If your camera has a "bulb" setting, use that. It will allow you to keep the shutter open for as long as you are holding the button down. And with fireworks, we definitely want it open for a second or two. If you don't have the bulb feature, select the slowest shutter speed possible.


Also, if you don't have a DSLR, you can still change all of these settings on a point and shoot camera. Get your manual out and figure out how to adjust the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Every point and shoot camera I've seen allows you control over these key components.

The last (and probably most important) thing is to set your camera on a tripod. I have not bothered with that in years past, but am definitely bringing it this year. I am excited to see the difference it will make (huge, I expect). It is near impossible to hold the camera steady enough for that long of an exposure. A tripod is key.

Any questions? Happy shooting.

Oh, and happy eating, too.



Amanda D said...

Just put the book on hold at the library. I need help to use that big M. :)

I've used my tripod the last couple of years, and it does make a huge difference. You wont regret it! Just remember to enjoy the fireworks too....there's more to it than taking pictures.

PS I'm reading the Book of Awesome and I am in love with it. My son is also reading the Gentleman book. :)

Tristan said...

I love the way firework turn out in photos! I hope you have a fun holiday!

danandcindy said...

I think a cool shot would be one with your feet in front of fireworks.

Julianna said...

I always wondered how people got these shots! I will try what you suggested, but I think most of my shots will be of my boys attempting to eat lobster. However, We are participating in the beach bonfires (tradition since the 1800s) this year and I'm hoping to get some good photos of that also. Enjoy your fourth! -J

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joven said...

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Feeling Just Right said...

Beautiful work, Christie! I love the idea of eating and just watching things around me, in awe! I am just going to give you guys company! :) :)

Julianna said...

Thank You!! Although they are no where near a good as yours, I took my first, dare I say good, pics of fireworks this year! Thanks for all the tips!

Mrs T said...

Happy 4th of July! I am all about a holiday that involved fireworks and eating.

Travelin'Oma said...

Cool photos! Mine look like a blast of rainbow colors smudged together, with a dark row of little heads sitting on the curb watching.

Did you know John Adams said we should celebrate with picnics, parades and fireworks? We were free from our stodgy old king and queen and now we could act like true Americans!! Eat and blow stuff up!

jessica said...

Thank you Miss Stie! I can't wait to try this next year!

yogurt said...

Love your pictures! Thanks for the pointers. It's funny you mention blowing things up - I was watching my daughter shoot off roman candles and I thought how this seemed to be a mimic of shooting guns or rocket grenade launchers, etc. Odd. But I suppose, not so odd when you consider we are commemorating our fight to Freedom from Britain.

Lauren in GA said...

We have been out of town so I missed this post. (Darn it all) but I am definitely using it next year. Thank you for posting this. It is a true public service.

Don't worry, though. Even though I didn't get great pictures...I definitely pigged out in style. I agree wholeheartedly with your commentary about the 4th.