Warm sun on my shoulders, the smell of the grill, cold green grass between my toes, and the laughter of excited children all scream 4th of July to me. Oh yeah, and fireworks too! Fireworks are beautiful to watch and fun to photograph (am I the only one that loves the smell of them too?). In the past, we’ve shared the basic techniques for photographing fireworks and today I want to encourage you to have some creative fun when shooting them.
1. Don’t fear imperfection.
You may be aiming for the perfect formation in your fireworks but don’t completely disregard the ‘mistakes’. Sometimes not having that perfect shutter speed can result in a pretty ribbon-like effect that will add a little variety to your photographic memories of the event.
2. Break out your ‘fun’ lenses.
Don’t think that long lenses are the only option this 4th. Playing with a fun lens like the Lensbaby can create some fun distortion in the fireworks. Fireworks shows tend to be long so bring along an extra lens or two to change things up.
3. Forget focus.
Okay, maybe not entirely but go ahead and see what you can come away with by shooting completely out of focus for a few frames. The vibrant colors and streaks will still scream fireworks even if nothing’s in focus.
*photo by Kristin Dokoza
4. Focus elsewhere.
Instead of shooting completely out of focus, consider focusing on something in the foreground for context. Watching fireworks is a magical time for children and including them in the frame can freeze quite the memory and tell a story that we can all relate to.
*photo by Jo Lien
5. Don’t stop.
Don’t stop shooting when the fireworks are fizzling out. Sure, the big explosions are fun to photograph but capturing a fizzling flame as it falls to the ground grabs a new view of the show. It’s also a great closing picture for anyone scrapbooking or making an album of their holiday.
So go ahead, have a little extra fun when photographing fireworks this weekend. You may just like what you get!
Related: Photographing fireworks made simple
April Nienhuis, Oklahoma
Director of Online Media | CMU Instructor
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Lover of thunderstorms and despiser of socks, April lives in rural Oklahoma with her firefighter/EMT husband and their 3 homeschooled kids. For CMU, she teaches the Exploring Creative Photography workshop, showing others about her love for unique perspectives, exposures, and compositions and not tying yourself down to one style.