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Fireworks are simple and fun to to capture on your camera. The best part is just being there and having a good time. But if you want to bring those memories home with you, here is how I do it.

A tripod is a must unless you can remain perfectly still for two seconds. And no, you can’t. Get comfortable on your blanket or chair and set up the camera on the tripod right in front of you so it is easily reached. Set it to manual and dial in a shutter speed of two seconds at F/14 and ISO 100. Set the focus to infinity.

Next you need to frame the shot. Loosen the head on your tripod so the camera can rotate freely. Watch where the first few fireworks explode and set the zoom and camera angle and then clamp everything down. Leave yourself some room around the edges of the frame because the finales usually involve multiple launches and you don’t want to cut them out of the picture.

Now the fun part. Timing. You will eventually get into a┬árhythm. You will hear the thump of the launch followed a few seconds later by the burst. You have a two second window for the explosion once you press the shutter button. You will be saying “Nailed that one” or “#%&@”.

Here are two examples from Crescent Bar, Washington on July 8, 2012.

Fireworks-1 Fireworks-2

So there you have it. I told you it was easy. If you want to see some more of these or what Mother Nature did to me the next night, read this blog post. Lightning Crashes.

Regards, Park Ranger

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