Fireworks and 4th of July

Fireworks have become a controversy in Central Vermont. People seem to love them or hate them. Currently there is a small group working hard to ban all fireworks because of the way explosions adversely effect war veterans, domestic animals, children, old people and wildlife. On the other side of the issue, people are ready to party and they gather all over Vermont to enjoy everything from backyard fireworks to huge city displays. I love them but then I’m half deaf anyway.

I have always enjoyed a good fireworks display even as a little kid. Our local NECBL baseball team, Vermont Mountaineers, open and close the season with fireworks put on by Northstar Fireworks from East Montpelier.  The City of Montpelier is planning a huge fireworks display to celebrate the 4th of July this year.


This is how I go about making a fireworks image. I choose a good spot and think about foreground and background. I don’t want anything too busy so the fireworks dominate but I want a hint of the location. Maybe a landmark like a mountain, a bridge, a statue, or unique building. Above you can see the Green Mountains in the background and the Northstar just above the horizon on the right. The Northstar was an accident. I didn’t notice it until after I processed  the picture.

Set up the composition early anticipating where the fireworks might explode and what other landmarks you want in the picture if any. Prepare for all kinds of weather and bugs! Be at the site early and have all your equipment setup and ready to make some pictures.


The image above is of a downtown Montpelier church during New Year’s Eve fireworks  in 2007. The fireworks are explosive but could have been more dramatic if I had known then what I know now about making good fireworks photos.

It’s mostly trial and error until you get the right exposure but here is a good place to start. Setup your composition. I use a wide angle lens and set my ISO at 100. You must use a tripod and make a long exposure of 8-10 seconds. I set the aperture around  f/11 or even more open to f/22. The shutter speed is at 4.0 to start. This will give you nice long light trails from the beginning of the fireworks and until after the explosion of color. If your camera has a Live View feature, use it to dial in all the settings from what you see in the LCD. You will have less trial and error with the settings. Use manual focus for long exposures.

Be patient and take lots of pictures. 

Vermont Mountaineers split a double header with Plymouth Pilgrams; 5-1, 4-2.


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