Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter

“We’re going to live on; we’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence day.”—“President Bradford” in the film Independence Day

Some photographic subjects, such as fireworks or lightening, can’t easily—at least for me—be captured by using any of the standard exposure metering systems, but many cameras, including several from Olympus, offer a Fireworks Mode that will slow the shutter speed and set the focusing point to infinity. But heck – you don’t need a special camera for that – you can do that yourself.

Here are the basics that I use to photograph fireworks: I suggest that you first switch from autofocus to manual focus, then go to manual exposure mode (M) and then select BULB as a shutter speed. With these setting, the shutter will stay open as long as the release is depressed. Since this increases the danger of camera movement, you should mount the camera on a sturdy tripod to minimize getting a bunch of squiggly liens in the photograph and use a remote control device or a simple cable release to trip the shutter. With fireworks you should manually set the exposure time to somewhere between 6 and 15 seconds and point the camera toward the part of the sky where the fireworks light up. One of the biggest mistakes people make is shooting fireworks before it’s too dark; heck I did that for years and got really crappy-looking washed out images.

Whenever I plan to photograph anything under tricky lighting conditions, I always refer to my old copy of the “Kodak Professional Photoguide,” which contains an Existing Light Exposure Dial. This offers suggested starting apertures and shutter speeds for different ISO settings. It’s set up for film, but ISO is ISO is ISO. Amazon has some used copies and you might be able to find a copy if there are any “real” camera stores near where you live.

Be safe and happy shooting.

Joe Farace is the author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” the second book in a planned trilogy from Amherst Media. It’s available in all the best bookstores as well as


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  1. […] you might be able to find a copy if there are any “real” camera stores near where you live.   source Post Published: 01 July 2011 Author: admin Found in section: World […]

  2. […] Fireworks on Independence Day Tags: exposure mode, film independence, heck, metering systems […]

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