Jun 282014

Kari Sikorski, a professional photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah, shares a guest post on how to capture amazing photos of Fireworks like a professional.  She takes all the guess work out of using a DSLR camera for you in this tutorial.

Firework Photography

by Kari Sikorski

The key is to have a long exposure and keep the camera steady.  Use a DSLR for the best results.

1. Use a Tripod:  Longer shutter speeds will not only capture the movement of the fireworks but any movement of the camera itself. The best way to keep your camera still is with a tripod.  

2. Remote Release: One way to ensure your camera is completely still during fireworks shots is to invest in a remote release device.

3. Framing Your Shot:  Scope out the location early – get a good, unobstructed position. Think about what is in the foreground and background of your shots and make sure you won’t have people’s heads in your shots (also consider what impact you’ll have on others around you also). Take note of where fireworks are being set up and what parts of the sky they are likely to be shot into.

  • Find Out the Direction of the Wind – You want to shoot up wind, so it goes Camera, Fireworks, Smoke. Otherwise the images will come out hazy. Make sure you are ready to take pictures of the first fireworks. If there isn’t much wind, you are going to end up with a lot of smoke in your shot as the show goes on. The first explosions are usually the sharpest ones.
  • Watch your Horizons – This is especially important if you’re going to shooting with a wide focal length and will get other background elements in your shots (ie a cityscape). Make sure your camera is level on your tripod.
  • Vertical or Horizontal?  Vertical works well because there is a lot of vertical motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots can work if you’re going for more of a landscape shot with a wider focal length or if you want to capture multiple bursts of fireworks in one shot.
  • Remember your framing – spend less time looking in the viewfinder and more time looking at the  sky. Doing this will also help you to anticipate the right time for a shot as you’ll see the light trails of unexploded rockets shooting into the sky.

4. Focal Length: I recommend using a zoom lens. Wide angle or zoomed in… experiment for variety.

5. ISO & Aperture: Set your ISO to 100 – fireworks are bright, and a low ISO has less noise/grain. Set your aperture to f/8.

6. Shutter Speed: Set the shutter speed to Bulb (B) setting. Bulb leaves the shutter open for as long as you depress the shutter release, and it’s a great way to make sure that you capture exactly what you see in the sky because you control when the exposure starts and stops. Hit the shutter as the firework is trailing up into the sky, and hold it down until it’s finished exploding (about 1-2 seconds).

Don’t keep your shutter open too long. fireworks are bright and it doesn’t take too much to over expose them, especially if your shutter is open for multiple bursts in the one area of the sky.

7. Switch off your Flash: If you’re using an SLR, simply lowering the flash and setting the camera to Manual mode will keep the flash from going off.

8. Manual Focus: If you leave your camera set to auto focus the lens will whir backwards and forwards trying to find something to focus on in the black sky and you’ll end up missing a lot of shots.

Set the lens to manual focus and set it to the ∞ (infinity) mark and leave it there. The fireworks will be far enough away that the camera would focus at infinity anyway.

9. Experiment and Check Results: Throughout the fireworks display occasionally check your results, but don’t check after every shot or you’ll miss the show.

When you’re shooting fireworks at night, the aperture controls the brightness of the lights, and the shutter speed determines how long the light trails appear in the photo.

If you want brighter fireworks, open the aperture by making the f number smaller (f5.6).

If the overall photo looks overexposed, make the f-number bigger (f11). Try again until you get an exposure you like.  Post-processing—darken the sky for increased contrast.

I asked Kari about her love of photography. This is her story about becoming a professional photographer: I have had a camera in my hands since I was about 7 years old. I grew up taking photographs of everything, and have a ridiculous amount of photo albums from my childhood which I cherish today. My dad first taught me how to shoot manually on his old 35mm that he carried in the Navy.

I am a mom to three adorable, loud, rambunctious boys, and photographing them gave me a new appreciation for what a photograph can mean to someone.

Check out her blog for the photos that have captured those smiles, milestones, relationships and special moments for her clients.

Apr 092014

Have you always wanted to write your own blog?
Computer clip art 1 (2)Would you like to reach out to others with tutorials, promote books, or work from home?

I was confused by all the bits and pieces of information available all over the blogging world.  By trial and error, I gathered all the correct information on how to set up a successful blog and now I can share this with you.  Let’s get started with the easy steps that will have you up and running your beautiful blog in about 15 minutes. Are you ready?

Step 1:  You need a hostWeb hosts are online services that store your blog and allow visitors to access it.  Although you can start a free service with Blogger or Word Press like I did, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.  You get what you pay for and if saving time is important to you, having a self-hosted site saves time and headaches.

Why did I choose Bluehost?  WordPress has been recommending Bluehost since 2005.  I found their 24/7 customer support, reliability, unlimited space and automated backups worth bragging about.

So you can reference these instructions, begin by clicking here to go to Bluehost as you build your site.  Click the Get Started Now button.
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Step 2: Choose your domain.  Enter your domain’s web address, (example: RetirefortheFunofit.com) on the left side under New Domain.  Make sure the extension of your choice (.com) is selected from the drop down menu beside it.

If you’ve already registered a domain name elsewhere, enter it on the right.  It won’t mess anything up, since this only identifies your account.

Then click the Next button.
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Step 3: Enter your account information.
Your e-mail address is where your login information will be sent for your records.
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Step 4: Choose a hosting package.
Your Package Information is where you choose your Account Plan from the dropdown menu based on how far in advance you want to pay.  I found this was a very reasonable monthly fee for owning a blog or website.  Don’t you agree?

I skipped the other add-ons except the Domain Whois Privacy, which will keep your personal information private. The Domain Whois Privacy option is highly recommended and only shows up if you registered a new domain in Step 2.  It won’t be an option if you are transferring your domain.
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Step 5:  Enter your billing information.
Fill in your billing information, confirm that you have read the fine print and click the Next button.
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Step 6: The Upgrades.
I recommend reviewing all the upgrades, but I skipped them all for my blog.  Continue on to complete your purchase.  Then go to your e-mail, where you will find a welcome message from Bluehost.  Now you will have your control panel (cPanel) login information.  Be sure to keep this for future reference.

Step 7: Login to your cPanel.
In the Welcome e-mail is the link to your cPanel or you can go back to the Bluehost site. Now click the Login button in the top right corner of your screen.   Enter your cPanel (control panel) login information from the welcome e-mail and click the blue Login button.

Step 8: Install WordPress.
Click the WordPress icon under Website Builders.
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Step 9: Start the WordPress installation.
Now you will see a window that looks like this.  Click the Start button to begin the WordPress installing process.Blue Host 7
Step 10: Choose where to install WordPress.
Leave this section as is with your domain showing in the dropdown menu.  The only reason to change this is to create a subfolder, which is rather unlikely if you’re starting your very first blog.
Simply click Check Domain.
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Step 11: Enter your WordPress user information.
Check the box next to Show Advanced Options. Enter your Site Name or Title.
Now choose your personal Admin Username and your password.  This information will be what you use to login to WordPress once it’s installed.  Be sure to save this information for whenever you login to WordPress.  Now enter your e-mail address so your site information will be sent to you.  Read and agree to the terms.  Click the Install Now button.
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Step 12: Success.  You have officially installed your new WordPress site.
You are finished.  Please keep this information to access your site, that will also be sent to you via e-mail, in a safe file.  When you click on the Site URL link, it will take you to your beautiful new and live website.  Now when you click on the Login URL link, you will be directed to the WordPress login page.  You can enter your saved username and password and have access to the backend of your WordPress site.

Congratulations!  You and anyone you give access too, can type your domain into a browser and your WordPress site will appear.
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I hope you found this post useful for starting your own self-hosted blog.  I’m looking forward to sharing comments and discussions about blogging with you.  An affiliate link is with this post.

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