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.