Fireworks – Long Exposure

Capturing what you see

The last few posts have been about using a fast shutter speed so I decided to change direction and touch on using a slow shutter speed. Long exposure to be exact. I took this photo during a Independence Day celebration at night. It was my first time using the long exposure feature and I was happy with the results. By following a few simple rules I was able to capture a unique photo.

The Scene and Camera

The fireworks show began late in the evening starting at around 9:30pm. That is the best time to photograph fireworks because of the contrast between the dark sky and the lights of the fireworks. If it were any sooner the long exposure would cause the background of the sky to be blown out in the picture. (unless you used special filters to decrease the amount of light entering the lens)

I set the focus to infinity and use an aperture of f/8. The shutter speed was more of a trial an error. Due to the fact that I did not know when the fire works were going to burst I started with a shutter speed of 8 seconds. After looking at the display I then adjusted my shutter speed to a longer time. I ended up using a shutter speed of 15 seconds to capture the photo i envisioned.

It was imperative that I used a sturdy tripod while trying to capture this photo. To add a little extra security to ensure that the camera would not move, I used a remote shutter release. I will admit that it was a bit frustrating at the begging of timing the shutter with the burst of fireworks.  However, after getting in the rhythm of things it came like clock work and I was able to catch on.

It would have been easier to just use a fast shutter speed and snap the photo at “just the right moment”. However, I wanted a trailing effect in the photo and the only way I know How to create that effect without software processing.

On a final note

There were other items that I included to help create a nice photo. I made sure to bring a blower, extra set of batteries (for both my camera and remote), a microfiber wipe, and a small key chain flashlight.  It was raining that day so I brought an umbrella as well as a grocery bag to cover my camera when it was not in use.

The fireworks show lasted for an hour and I spent about 20 minutes capturing the photo. I chose not to photograph the entire show because I was also there to enjoy myself and spend time celebrating. That was a personal preference and now that I think about it there were some bursts that I wish I did capture on camera. Maybe next time I will devote more time… or maybe not.


Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time



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I have a strong passion for creativity, landscape, wildlife and nature photography.

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