Fireworks photography tips

I’ve been seeing a lot of tips floating around about photographing fireworks. Many make it seem difficult and mysterious. Time to get back to basics.

  • More light = shorter exposure. Less light = longer exposure.
  • Capturing fast action = shorter exposure. Blurring long motion = longer exposure.

… where “exposure” is a combination of aperture and shutter speed.

With fireworks, the action is relatively fast, and the light is bright. For this reason, in most cases, you don’t want super-long exposures! Keeping your shutter open for 30 seconds will leave you disappointed. (The exception would be if you have opened the shutter onto a black sky and are waiting for the fireworks to go… in this case, a black sky will register little or no light onto the exposure, so having the shutter open is fine while intermittent flares are going off.)

But when the bombs really start glaring, you need faster exposures to capture them. Otherwise, you will end up with a blurry mess of overexposed shots.

With that in mind, here are my tips for shooting fireworks, using a digital SLR: (more…)

Thanks to the Denver Digital Photo Club

Last night I made a Lightroom presentation to one of the more established photo clubs in the Denver area. It was a blast! Great turnout, lots of good questions and interaction and we all had a good time exploring the advantages of Lightroom in a digital photography workflow.

I brought all the remaining copies of my book that I had; unfortunately several people didn’t get one… I ran out. (You can get them on

Dick York founded Denver Digital Photo Club 6 years ago – a long time in terms of digital photography – and of clubs. They’ve been holding a monthly meeting every month all these years, and it showed… lots’ of camaraderie.

My thanks to Dick and the club members for a warm welcome and a nice evening. Cheers!

Mac vs. PC debate continues…

A recent question from a client:

“I’m about to upgrade computers.  I need something portable, so I’m going towards a laptop at the moment.  I’m currently stuck on the PC vs. Mac fence.  Are the benefits of going Mac still manifest or are PCs becoming as reliable?”

My response:

“Over the past 20+ years, I’ve used both Macs and PCs (and Unix workstations) in my digital imaging work. I’ve used all kinds of laptops and desktop machines, plus servers of various flavors. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Historically, Mac’s disadvantage has been cost. Windows disadvantage has been stability/reliability. (more…)

Chase Jarvis speaking in Denver

Renowned master photographer Chase Jarvis will be presenting at the Denver Newspaper Agency Friday, June 12. This event is presented by ASMP Colorado.

Click here for details

All heart…

OK, so maybe it’s a bit trite at this point. But I’m watching Jerry MacGuire and I think there are still some good bits of wisdom there.

In a phone conversation with my buddy Monte Trumbull , we were talking about how to reveal one’s own "voice" in a photograph. How to make a personal statement; how to produce photographs that speak for you.

I believe that making truly expressive photographs requires conscious thought combined with a personal, innate reaction to the subject. In other words, finding a way to respond to what’s happening, and distill the essence of that reaction within a rectangle. This is not easy but is essential to produce an expressive photograph – no matter what the subject.

Try this: when looking through the viewfinder, identify your instinctual, emotional connection with the subject. Be clear about what you like and what you don’t like, and be clear about why. The more you can identify with your photographs, the better they will become.

From Jerry MacGuire: "If this [points to heart] is empty, this [points to head] doesn’t matter".

Respond to your subject with your heart and let the rest flow.

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