July 4th! Another chance to shoot fireworks. Another chance to get it right… whatever that means.
I arrive at the location early enough to find a parking place and wander the area listening to a local country western band. Got some nice shots of dragonflies on the reeds of the pond, a kid fishing, and wildflowers as I waited for darkness to arrive. It was nearly 100 degrees and the sun was still shining brightly. The sweat was trickling down my face and I retreated to the air conditioning of the car as I tried to decide if it was really worth hanging around long enough to try to get some shots. And then I asked myself… WWJD? No… not what you are thinking. But rather… “What would John do?”
You see, John is my mentor in photography. He is more experienced and has a way of explaining things so I can understand.
We all need a mentor. Sometimes it is the difference between success and failure.
So this was the plan… use a tripod and a cable release to minimize any camera shake, shoot on manual, iso 100, F8-10, bulb (in place of specific shutter speed), set focus on infinity and then back off just a wee bit, use a wide angle lens and then get ready for some fast and furious shooting!
If you need help learning how to set up your camera using manual settings, just google “How do I shoot in manual with a (name of your camera)?” and more than likely you will find a youtube video that walks you through the process step by step. Just follow along with your camera in hand.
As darkness was setting in, I left the cool car and set up my tripod and camera. I prepared all of my camera settings so I would be ready to go. Always remember to pack a small flashlight with your photo gear for situations such as this. I used my 28-135 lens at the 28mm setting to get reasonable wide angle. (I actually had a 10-20mm wide angle that I also could have used and if there had been something else of interest in the photo, such as a building or bridge, it would have been a good choice).
The crowd was going crazy in anticipation. There was a line of over 100 women waiting to use the bathroom. (Girls… there’s a lesson to be learned from this!) The sky was becoming darker and I overheard the people next to me counting the stars in the sky. (They only came up with four!) And then an announcement by the mayor… “Let the show begin!”
As I heard the first boom, I held down the button on the cable release and counted to 5 seconds before letting go and then checked the resulting photo. Bingo! Got it… sort of… and re-adjusted the lens to point at a little different area of the sky. Yes… I might have made out better by using the 10-20mm but I was not about to change the lens in the dark at that point because I surely would have missed a bunch of shots. The fireworks were closer than the ones the night before which I had not anticipated.
So with each shot I experimented. Hold the shutter open 2 seconds here… 6 seconds there. Check a few of the photos on your screen to see how they look and then keep shooting. And the magic comes when you import those photos to your computer. It is magic! Oh yes… there will be a lot to delete, but there will be a lot of keepers as well.