First Attempt at Photographing Fireworks

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and I never tried to photograph fireworks before. I first had to decide on a location to shoot from. The fireworks in Frederick, Maryland are done by Baker Park. I decided to try the top (sixth) level of a parking garage next to the courthouse. It has a view of Baker Park. 

I arrived at 8:00 PM, since I thought the garage might fill up. When I arrived that were some people lining the wall, but I was able to find a spot. By 9:00 PM it was quite full. I brought my tripod since I knew I would be taking long exposures. As the sun set, I took test photos to see what my exposure should be. The bell tower in the park was lighted, so I used that as a guide. I ended up using 2 seconds at f/13 at ISO 200. That was good for photos with just one or two fireworks going off. Towards the finale with many fireworks going off my sensor saturated with that exposure. 

I had trouble with camera vibration even with the tripod. If you look closely at the photo, you can see some wiggles on the lines of the fireworks. I think I need to weight down my tripod, so it is more stable.. As the fireworks show went on I pressed down on the tripod while shooting and my shots improved. In the shot below the lines look much smoother. 

Some Thoughts for Next Year

Scout the location better. It would have been nice to have some object in the photo also for scale. I thought I would use the bell tower in the park, but I was in the wrong place for that. From my vantage point the fireworks were far to the left of the bell tower. Bring something to weigh down the tripod and investigate getting a remote release. Reduce the exposure by closing the aperture as the finale comes.