How to Celebrate Freedom and Love

Well, Deke is safely ensconsed in a broadband-challenged area of “off-the-hand” Michigan, so I can write whatever I like today without him editorally looking over my shoulder. (I think he enjoys turning the tables on me.) So I thought about running my seasonably inappropriate and infamous “How to Draw a Snowflake using InDesign” tutorial, but, instead, I’ll celebrate my personal independence the way all red, white, and blue-blooded American’s do this time of year here in the states, by rounding up the best advice on how to photograph fireworks.

  • Over at the The Digital Story, Derrick’s got a great set of basic advice for shooting your pyrotechnic celebrations. His first item? Turn off the flash: “Yes, you’re going to be shooting in a dark environment, and if your camera is set to auto flash, it’s going to fire. This is the last thing you want, so turn it off.” This presumes you know how to turn off the flash. In fact, that’s probably an even better tip: know how to control the flash on your camera before you’re in the dark trying to figure it out on-the-fly. (For more sage advice on shooting in special circumstances, from airplanes to underwater to infrared, check out Derrick’s book, The Digital Photography Companion.)
  • Lifehacker has a terrifically illustrated list of things to remember about shooting fireworks. Here’s a favorite:
    Have a small light handy for checking and altering settings on the camera and tripod without having to fumble in the dark. A small red LED key chain flashlight is perfect for this task. Red light is less disruptive to your night vision than white light.
  • Over at Photo DIY Maven Shangri-La, aka Photojojo, they’ve got a great list of advice for shooting “Sparkling Fireworks Photos,“including a common-sense explanation for why you need a long shutter speed:
    This is the most important camera setting you’ll need to worry about. At any given moment, fireworks are just a bunch of bright points of light. What makes them interesting is how their quick motion across the night sky illuminates a path and creates beautiful streaks and patterns. Your eye sees it, but with a fast shutter speed, your camera doesn’t.
  • Finally, at the Smithsonian Photo Services site, you can get advice from Smithsonian photographers for whom Fourth of July is a real chance to assert their skills. These guys have access to firework displays that include iconic landscapes as well, and the pictures here are downright inspiring, even if all you’re going to do is use the “Fireworks” setting on your compact camera (and a tripod, don’t forget the tripod).

Happy Fourth, all. Here’s to creative freedom. Cheers (raising her martini with flag-toothpicked olive)!

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  • More Photojojo coolness

    When I went back to Photojojo after yesterday’s research, I found out today they ran Deke’s 101 Tips Video. I knew they were cool!

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