How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots of Fireworks

June 03, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Part 2 of 4 of my Fireworks Blog/Youtube Series

Can I be honest with you? I hope the answer is yes, and why would I lie anyway.  I may be wrong from time to time, but I will not intentionally lie to you.  But what I am about to share with you is how I went from a failed fireworks photoshoot to a successful fireworks photoshoot all by mistake. So, here's the story.

It was fireworks show time and like many years in the past, I packed my photography gear for the fireworks and headed out with the family for the show.  However, upon arrival, I realized I forgot my tripod.  ARGHHHHH!  I almost just packed my camera back in the bag and called it a lesson learned.  But, instead, I decided to try something different.  I got my camera out and set up the same settings as described in part 1 of this series.  Without a tripod, I was challenged on how to hold the camera steady enough to get the same photos I have gotten in the past.

Hand-holding my camera and expecting the same result was not likely.  Instead, I chose to intentionally move my camera around during the shoot.  I did not have much time to think this through - remember I was expecting to be using my tripod.  So, with this short notice of change in technique, I moved my camera but did it with the understanding I didn't need to move it much.  But I tried many things such as the obvious circular motion and then a square.  But I also drew hearts and after reviewing my photos found I had drawn a question mark. 

This one takes some practice, but if you have an LCD on the back of your camera to preview, I am sure you will do fine.  But I will give you some hints anyway.  You will also want to shut off the shutter timer if you had it on for the standard firework shots.  Also, instead of Manual Mode, use Bulb Mode so you can control precisely how long the shutter is open.  Check out my Youtube video where I explain this technique.

The movements need to be very small because the fireworks are far away.  I am only talking a few inches at the most.  Think of shooting a target a couple of hundred yards away and if you aim just a fraction of an inch away in any direction you will likely miss your target (if it is a small bulls-eye target).  So you will have some room to experiment, but start off small before you try any large sweeping motions.

The number 1 rule here, is to not limit yourself in your experimentation.

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Links to the other parts of this series.

Part 1: How to Nail the Best Fireworks Photos
Part 1 on YouTube

Part 2: How to Take Erratic Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 2 on YouTube

Part 3: How to Take Intentional Camera Movement Shots with Fireworks
Part 3 on YouTube

Part 4: How to take Zooming Photo Shots with Fireworks
Part 4 on YouTube coming on June 17




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