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This was shot during the Fourth of July 2018 in Richfield, Minnesota.

The first time I shot photos of a fireworks show was an incredible and exhilarating experience.

Sitting in the dark surrounded by hundreds of people who had pulled out lawn chairs to a Richfield, Minnesota, park, I set up a tripod and waited with baited breath for the right moments to hit the shutter on the awe-inspiring show. Each flash of a firework and touch of the shutter button was a chance to take a vivid photo of the firework painting the sky in ribbons of colored sodium chloride trails.

If you like to take photos but have a hard time with snapping those shots of fireworks, I’d like to offer some tips. I’m not talking about using a cell phone camera either. You will need a DSLR camera, an 18-55mm lens or 18-200mm lens and a tripod.

The first step is finding a good spot where you can shoot the firework show. It’s nice to have a backdrop of some familiar landmarks. If you live close to Lake Ripley in Litchfield or know of a show in a nearby town, it’s nice to get a spot on high ground with buildings or a landmark for a stunning image.

After you’ve found your spot and set up a tripod, you’re going to want to prepare your camera on the right settings. To take those quality shots, set your image settings in the highest file size possible on your camera. This will help take a clear image that isn’t grainy in a low-light setting.

Once you’ve configured your file size, you’ll set your camera in manual mode. In manual mode, set your ISO fairly low at 100 or 200. You’ll want your F stop to be fairly high, at F11, but play around with it until you find just the right amount of light.

For a nice visual of the light trails, you’re going to want to use a long exposure shutter speed. Play around with the length of time you want your shutter speed to last, possibly 1 to 5 seconds. Adjust your F stop as you increase or decrease your shutter speed.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to fool with the shutter speed, Nikon has another suggestion.

“Instead of choosing a shutter speed, set the camera to bulb, which allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you want,” Nikon wrote. “Expose for the entire fireworks burst. You can even keep the shutter open for multiple bursts.”

The last tip is to make sure your autofocus is off. You’ll want to manually focus your pictures and play around with it as you shoot.

For more tips and tricks, or more in-depth detail on how to photograph fireworks, visit

Good luck on your picture-taking quest and I hope all of you have a happy, safe Fourth of July celebration.

Cam Bonelli is editor of the Leader’s sister newspaper, the Litchfield Independent Review.

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