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Firework photography is best undertaken at large organized displays where the pyrotechnics are professionally controlled, colour co-ordinated and presented on a grand scale. Smaller displays tend to produce disappointing results. Find a suitable location which allows an unobstructed view of the exploding fireworks some distance back from the crowd. Displays are likely to occupy enough of the sky to render a bit of additional distance from the launch site relatively unimportant.

Public domain image by JosephHart

Set a camera up on a tripod and select a lens suitable for the type of shot required. A standard lens of 28mm to 50mm focal length may be appropriate for pictures of the whole display, whereas a telephoto lens may be more suitable for picking out spectacular elements which fill the frame. Select an aperture of f/11 or f/16, the focus to infinity, and set the shutter to the "B" setting so that it can be held open for extended periods. A remote release is essential so that the shutter can be controlled without touching and hence moving the camera.

Once the display has started it should be relatively straightforward to select a portion of the sky on which to concentrate. Then wait until traces of light are seen rising in to the sky as rockets are launched, and open the shutter. Hold the shutter open for a suitable period while the display continues, and perhaps for as long as 30 seconds. Then close the shutter. When delays of a number of seconds occur between displays, cover the lens with a piece of black card without touching the camera. The card can be removed as soon as further fireworks are launched.

An element of luck, and trial and error, is inevitably involved. However, it is not difficult to produce spectacular images filled with exploding colours and patterns.


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