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Tuesday, July 5, 2011



The fireworks over Washington DC were amazing, as usual. I staked out a favorite spot with some friends early in the evening at the Marine Corps memorial in Arlington.

OK, I know this is a day late (I didn't feel like working yesterday!) but I'm going to lay out some tips for shooting fireworks for next year. First, you must use a tripod. I've found that shutter speeds between 1/2 second and 4 seconds seem to work best and hand holding your camera at those speeds means that every shot will be blurry. Second, unless your tripod is incredibly stable, use a remote shutter release or the timer because just the act of pressing the shutter is enough to shake the camera and cause bluriness. Third, include a static item (like the Lincoln Memorial) in the frame to show scale. Set your focus to that item and then turn off the autofocus. The autofocus will be super confused by all the flashing lights and will cause you to miss your shot. Fourth, use your aperture control to expose for the buildings and to control how bright the fireworks look. Most of these shots were 2-3 seconds at f20 or f22. The small aperture allowed me to use a longer shutter speed and to keep the fireworks from being too bright to see any detail. Fifth, is to shoot as many frames as you can because there is an element of luck to getting the money shot. It's impossible to predict when each firework will burst and how bright it's going to be, so you just have to use your best guess on the settings and hope for the best!

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