Expert Morristown photographer offers 'fireworks photography 101' tips
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 5:18 pm

Bruce Dana captured these photos at Monday’s fireworks display across the St. Lawrence River in Brockville, Ontario, which was part of the celebration of Canada Day by our neighbors to the north.

MORRISTOWN – As many St. Lawrence County residents prepare to capture fireworks displays on camera over the Independence Day holiday, an accomplished Morristown photographer has offered a few tips for taking great photos.

Bruce Dana of Bruce Dana Photography said anyone can capture great firework pictures with a little practice and some basic knowledge.

“I'm often asked how to photograph fireworks. It does take a little practice,” said Dana. “I can pass along what works for me. But there are many other ways and equipment that can do the job.“

While standing on the Morristown side of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Dana took several photos of a fireworks display in Brockville Monday. He said the settings for those shots were all shot with a DSLR camera mounted on a tripod for stability due to the longer exposures needed for night photography.

“I set my Canon XSi with an 18-55mm IS Lens zoomed out to 55mm on “Manual Exposure” in the “Bulb” setting, which lets you expose the shot for as long as you wish, limited only by the amount of battery power you have at the time.”

Dana said the “Aperture” was set at F 10 and the camera was manually focused on the Brockville skyline before the show even started so he was ready to shoot when it did start.

“The shutter was tripped with a cable release, which protects the camera from unwanted vibration. What works best is to only leave the shutter open for one or two rocket burst at a time,” he said. Dana said more rockets can be captured, but they may be blended together. He said this reduces the detail that can be achieved from isolating one or two bursts.

“My ISO settings are at 100 because the fireworks are actually quite bright and you get cleaner, crisper images with less digital noise.” he said.

Dana said things move pretty fast once the fireworks begin and getting into rhythm of firing the shutter using the cable release as the rockets go up can help ensure quality photos.

“That way you are capturing the ascent and the full explosion as it unfolds, click the remote again and the shutter closes and stores that image and your ready to shoot again and again,” he said.

Dana said it is ok if you can’t capture every explosion.

“You may miss a few shots, and you should check your images to see if they require adjusting the settings. But ideally you will get better quality pictures if you aim for just trying to capture one or two rockets at a time,” he said.

Dana said there other many other ways to capture fireworks that are a bit less involved.

“This works for me. I have also had reasonable success with some point and shoot cameras that have a setting for fireworks,” he said. “Shooting the whole show on HD video, which many cameras have that capability now, can be great too.”