This past weekend, I shot an absolutely amazing wedding in the mountains of West Virginia. The wedding itself was incredible, very very unique, and I'll post that soon, but I've received a lot of questions about the fireworks photo I posted on my TWITTER:


Specifically, people wanted to know what I did to get this shot! It wasn't very difficult.

In past years, I've gone about shooting fireworks the wrong way. I'd point the camera at the sky, crank the ISO up to 1600, and end up either with a weak, colorless burst, or a grainy and overexposed scene. Neither had the impact I was looking for!

This time, I decided to try a long exposure. My settings for this photo were:

400 ISO, 5.6 Apeture, 8 second exposure, handheld.

That's right--8 seconds, handheld. I didn't bring a tripod with me on this trip.

The reason this technique works so well is that the low ISO keeps the photo from being too noisy. It also forces a longer exposure, which is why the trails of the fireworks are so long. I was able to focus at 5.6 on a previous firework that was set off before this shot.

You can handhold something like this because when the fireworks go off is the only time the frame will be illuminated. Between fireworks, it's pitch black, and the explosion freezes the action like a flash would. If you move during the explosion though, you'll have a blurry shot. It's WAY BETTER AND EASIER to shoot this on a tripod.

Anyway, I hope this helps, and happy belated 4th!

(it also helped that the people setting these fireworks off were...untrained and had them going off waaaaay low. That's why the smoke, ground, and barn are so well illuminated.)

Scary? You bet. Worth it? Absolutely!