Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

July 4, 2011

First Fireworks Try with the Rebel

Ever since I bought my first DSLR last summer (can you believe it has been almost a year already?), I’ve been wanting to try to take some fireworks pictures.  Since I bought it a week after July 4th last year, this weekend was my first opportunity.  I remembered that Scott did a blog post with some advice on how to take fireworks photos, which was great since I had no idea where to start.  I emailed Scott and he kindly found the link for me and invited me to ask questions if I had any – which I did!  I ended up purchasing a shutter release cable, and I am glad that I did. 

 I hadn’t been to a near-by town’s fireworks in many years, so I asked a few people for viewing and parking advice.  It turned out I couldn’t park exactly where was suggested, but we found a big open field which turned out to be a great spot for viewing.  My two daughters and older daughter’s boyfriend came along for the ride.  We had time to spare waiting for the show.  I tried to get a cute shot of three teenagers plugged in to their electronics while they waited:

 Waiting for the fireworks

I already had the camera on the tripod so I was trying to sneakily take the picture with no flash.  On “P” mode the camera selected a 13 sec. shutter speed, so I wasn’t so sneaky afterall!  I ended up with a ghostly vision of Meghan looking up from her iPod as if to say, “Really, Mother?”

Meghan was definitely in the spirit of the holiday though:
Patriotic toes

After the first firework went off, I did my best to position my camera for the part of the sky where the fireworks were coming up (over a stand of trees from our view) and focus for that general area.  I left the focus on manual so AF wasn’t trying to constantly adjust, set the shutter for Bulb and the aperture to f16, and connected my shutter release cable.  I remembered Scott saying to open the shutter when you hear the launching boom and hold it open for several seconds to catch several explosions.  I think I did most of mine at 3 to 5 seconds.  I couldn’t remember what Scott said to do when we got to the finale, so I ended up with WAY blown out shots when I tried.  I think my reaction time, thought process and instincts are still a little slow in the world of DSLR’s but I am mostly happy with my results for the Rebel’s first try at fireworks.  Here’s a little slide show of 16 (out of 138!) of my favorites:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy Independence Day everyone!


  1. You got some neat shots with the slower shutter speeds. I had the same problem with blowout during the finale too.

    Comment by Jennifer A (Bread and Putter) — July 4, 2011 @ 11:35 am | Reply

    • Thank you. I was pretty happy with them.

      Comment by Karma — July 4, 2011 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

  2. Beautiful shots! 🙂

    Comment by Photo By Holly — July 4, 2011 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  3. You sure managed to get some nice shots there, and some great colours too… Never tried fireworks myself, so hats off for giving them a go… Almost a year eh !!… Wow… How time flies… 🙂

    Comment by FS Photography — July 4, 2011 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

    • I bet you’d be awesome at fireworks with all the interesting night shots that you do Brian. Gee, since you don’t celebrate your independence from England 😉 , when do you get to see fireworks regularly?

      Comment by Karma — July 4, 2011 @ 8:18 pm | Reply

  4. Haha, love your toes!
    You got some really great fireworks pictures, and looks like it was quite the show, too! We found some fireworks to watch yesterday but 1) not a good location, 1) I’ve seen a better fireworks show!! Seriously, we weren’t sure if that was supposed to be the show, or if someone set them off in their yard! And 3) I didn’t have a tripod or anything to set the camera on. I think I still got some good ones. Will know when we get home 🙂

    Btw. I got the notification that you added me on flickr… I haven’t used flickr in probably 3 years (at least!!), so I wasn’t going to add any new contacts. Nothing personal…. I just don’t use flickr anymore.

    Comment by thedailyclick — July 4, 2011 @ 1:58 pm | Reply

    • Those are actually Meghan’s toes not mine! I’d never have the patience.
      Thank you – yes it was a pretty good show and we had a perfect place to view.
      I just added you on Flickr because you popped up recently under “people you may know.” I didn’t realize you don’t use it anymore. Oh well, no big deal!

      Comment by Karma — July 4, 2011 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  5. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your pictures are beautiful!!!!! Some of those fireworks looked undersea creatures! Just Beautiful photography!

    Comment by Trish Dinsmore — July 4, 2011 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  6. Your fireworks shots are wonderful! Great job! I think I was shooting the same fireworks from a different perspective. Did the grand finale get buried in smoke where you were? We were near the Walgreen’s. In the past, we’ve viewed them from the field at Lenox.

    LOVE, love the toes!

    Happy 4th!

    Comment by Becky Sue — July 4, 2011 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Becky! I didn’t notice the finale getting too badly obscured in smoke. That’s where we were – the Lenox field. The view was perfect and wide open.
      Meghan is getting pretty handy with her pedicures!

      Comment by Karma — July 5, 2011 @ 8:51 am | Reply

  7. These are great! You selected some really neat burst formations. As for the finale….I switch to shutter priority mode and use 1/2 second exposures or less when not using an ND filter. Even then you’ll get blowouts. Those cherry bombs are too bright!

    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — July 5, 2011 @ 7:05 am | Reply

    • Thank you Scott. I didn’t have a cool castle or dock for a backdrop, but I was pretty happy with the results. Thanks again for the advice.

      Comment by Karma — July 5, 2011 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  8. I love these. Great job especially for a first attempt. I unfortunately did not get to any fireworks shows (yet) this year but it’s likely I’ll see some next month – I’m pretty excited about that!

    Comment by mylifeincny — July 5, 2011 @ 8:02 am | Reply

    • Thank you Deb. Check out Scott’s post for some good advice about how to go about shooting.

      Comment by Karma — July 5, 2011 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  9. You got some wonderful shots! Well done.

    Comment by tedgriffith — July 5, 2011 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

    • Thank you! I always enjoy learning how to take different kinds of photos.

      Comment by Karma — July 5, 2011 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  10. LOVE those toes! 😀

    You got some great shots! Almost a year already?!? Wow. Time truly does fly when you’re having fun.

    Comment by Robin — July 5, 2011 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Robin. I thought you might appreciate the toes!
      It is hard to believe that it was a year ago at this time that I was wrestling with the decision about whether to buy the DSLR and if so, which one (and driving hubby crazy in the process!)

      Comment by Karma — July 5, 2011 @ 3:28 pm | Reply

  11. […] mentioned in my Fireworks post, that I purchased a shutter release cable.  That seemed like a good excuse to bring the extension […]

    Pingback by Morning and Afternoon « Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — July 6, 2011 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

  12. […] Since I’m not expecting to have any new fireworks shots to share with you, here is a link to my little slideshow from 3 years ago. […]

    Pingback by Simple Day #14 | Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — July 4, 2014 @ 9:40 am | Reply

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