Photo Tip Friday: Taking Night Time Shots: Part 1 - Fireworks

By Mary Denman

Today's photography tip is learning how to take firework pictures. They are so much fun to watch but can be very frustrating when you're trying to take pictures of them. We all have the blurry ones. 

But once we go back over some of the basics, you'll be better armed to get some great shots. 

Let's get started.

The first thing you need to remember is the ISO or sensitivity of the film.  
(Here is a link to a prior post on Time Value and ISO.)

What does this mean? 

At 100 ISO, you need a lot of light for a clear, crisp shot. 
Use ISO 100 for SUNLIGHT settings.

At 3200 ISO, you don't need much light to get your picture. 
Use ISO 3200 for NIGHTTIME settings.

In the pictures I took this past July 4th, I generally used ISO 6400. Because it was 10:00 at night, there was very little light. So I needed the "film" to need as little light as possible.

I wish that I could give you more details on the timing I used, but my photo program has decided not to play nicely and so I can't get to that info. By next week, I should have the problems solved and will continue with Part 2 and more details. 

So once I got the ISO where I needed, I then played with just focusing in on the fireworks or including my kids and the crowd. 

I've learned to take "overall" shots to remember where we were and the overall feel. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the details and close ups, so I try to take a bit of both. 

So how do you control the ISO? 

Go to your camera, check the dial or see where the ISO button is. This varies from camera to camera. Sorry I can't be more specific. Once you turn to the ISO setting, or Program mode, you can change it. I would suggest trying it out right where you are first. Then, you can go into a dark room in your house and play with the different ISO values to see what affect it has on the pictures. 

For CELL PHONE users: Unfortunately, without an app, you can't control ISO with most phones. However, the one thing you can do is tell the camera to focus on the brightest part of a night time/dark shot. If the overall picture is too dark, the phone won't even focus. But if you touch the screen where you want it to focus, then it will read that part in particular and will have an easier time focusing. 

Come back next week when I'll have more details and more suggestions for taking pictures at night! 

Hope this tip helps!

Keep on clicking!


Tweetable: How to Take Night Time Shots, Part 1 (click here to Tweet)


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  1. Great tips Mary, I can not take good night shots or fireworks...

    Thanks for linking up


    1. Thanks Claire! I hope I can help you with that!

  2. Thanks so much for joining the Say G'Day Saturday linky party. I just pinned your post. Thanks for these excellent tips!

    Have a great weekend!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

    1. Thanks Natasha! I hope you have a great weekend! G'Day!