What says America more than barbeque, beer, and fireworks? The fourth of July is always a good time and of course you document it. Couple days later, you see these pictures surface on Facebook under a cleverly named album. All the photos are looking great until you have reached to the fireworks pictures. All those pictures look blurry, out of focus, and ultimately disappointing. The fireworks that you remembered were bold and spectacular which unfortunately did not match up with what you captured.

Here are some tips that will make these photos worth sharing!

1. Get there early! There is always limited seating at these fireworks show. If you want a good location to set up your shot this is definitely important. Try finding a location that is not well lit. A different lighting source other than the fireworks can distract from the real action.

2. Use a tripod. Sure, it could be a hassle bringing and setting up a tripod in a densely crowded area. But it is worth it because shooting fireworks require you set your shutter speed to a longer setting. I don’t care if you have the hands of a surgeon, the camera will pick up on that. Your shots will be crisper and cleaner this way.

3. Use your fireworks setting: I prefer to shoot in manual but if you don’t have this option then go with the fireworks prefix that is on your camera.

4. Shutter speed: if you are shooting in manual then it should be set to at least 2 or 3 seconds. You do this because you want to capture the entire path of the light trail.

5. Aperture and ISO: The rule of thumb when it comes to aperture is to set it at f/8 or f/16. With ISO you should bring it down to 100 or 50. Shooting in high ISO can make your image look grainy and noisy. If you have a noise reduction feature I suggest you use it. You are shooting at night but once the fireworks come alive it is actually pretty bright.

6. No flashing. Most flashes can’t even reach that high up in the sky to make the flash impactful. Even if you had one that could, you shouldn’t. The fireworks are the star and is there to light up the night sky.

7. Tell your story. So your pictures of the fireworks turned out great but who really wants to scroll through dozens of pictures of just the fireworks in the sky. Give your shot some personality by framing it with your friends and family’s reaction in the foreground. Give the image some perspective of where you are when it happened. Play around with it.

8. Lastly, be safe and have good time.