DIGI-PIXELS: Tips for taking great fireworks photos

Photographer Norman Silverstone nails this long exposure fireworks photo from Vancouver. Learn how he did it in his latest Digi-Pixels column. - NORMAN SILVERSTONE/Special to the Alberni Valley News
Photographer Norman Silverstone nails this long exposure fireworks photo from Vancouver. Learn how he did it in his latest Digi-Pixels column.
— image credit: NORMAN SILVERSTONE/Special to the Alberni Valley News

It is midday, the sun is shining, the temperature is 30 degrees Celsius and rising and here I am again typing out this column. Thank heaven for a cool basement.

This month we ordered two cords of wood from an ad in the newspaper. On delivery day we received a phone call to say that they could not fit into our driveway at the back of the house and could they dump the firewood on the front lawn. I sent them around to the alley in the back and asked them to dump the wood in the middle of the alley.

Then I ran down to the shelter, walked in and announced, “I have $40 dollars to pile two cords of wood for whoever wants the job.” Immediately I had a chap who said that he used to deliver wood and knew how to stack it, so off we went. He did an excellent job—well worth the money.

Les and I are selling in the “Art and Photography in the Garden” show and sell at the Milner Gardens on Aug. 9–10. We drove to Qualicum to deliver our auction pieces for the Milner Gardens silent auction, and while at the gardens we walked around and had a good look at this rare beauty of a place.


Q: How do I shoot fireworks with a digital camera?

A: If you have a point and shoot camera with a “Fireworks Scene” mode then that would be your choice. Otherwise you must have a camera that you can shoot in MANUAL or even better a camera that will shoot in BULB (BULB means that the camera lens will stay open as long as the shutter is pressed).

You should also have a sturdy tripod, either a cable release, electronic release, or a wireless remote, a medium length telephoto lens such as a 70mm up to a 100mm, fully charged batteries, and a good location.

The best shots would be with something of interest in the foreground such as the town lit up, the Orange Bridge, or the wooden Welcome Figures down at Victoria Quay and so on.

The exposure on BULB would be ISO 400…f16 (try f16, if the fireworks are too dark then open up to f11); make sure that the autofocus function is turned off; and manually set the focus on infinity.

Take the first shot, then gently cover the lens with your hand or a lenscap. Remove the hand or lenscap to take the second shot on the same photo. Gently cover the lens with your hand or a lenscap and if you are daring, remove the hand or lenscap and take a third firework shot on the same photo.

Try to arrange the double or triple shots so that the fireworks do not overlap or cover each other. I found that two or three bursts on one shot are adequate.

When you have finished with the shot gently release the shutter.

The best fireworks images would be at the beginning before the sky fills up with smoke.

Any questions?  E-mail me at nsilverstone@telus.net or see me online at www.silverstonephotos.com.

Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port


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