How to Photograph Fireworks

Around this time of year, I’m frequently asked “How do I photographer fireworks?” With a little bit of information, a decent camera, a tripod and a bit of luck, you can get wonderful fireworks photos. Before I go any further, let me start out by saying that when I photograph fireworks, I don’t expect every photo to turn out. In fact, I’m happy if I get 5-10 good shots.

Let’s start with your camera. It should allow you to control the exposure settings. That is you’ll need to be able to have a long exposure and an average aperture setting. Next you’ll need a cable release and a tripod to keep your camera steady during the long exposure. I usually set my camera to ISO200, f5.6 or f8.0. Before the fireworks show starts, I look for an area where I can see the show and yet is away from any light pollution. I set everything up and wait for the show. When the show starts, I take a couple of shots of the first few bursts. I’ll look at the images to see if I need to make any adjustments and then photographer the rest of the show. I’ll try to get several bursts on one image to create a dramatic effect. If you’re lucky you can follow a rocket into the air and then get it exploding for a wonderful shot. Have a great 4th of July.

Where to Buy a Camera

Now that you’ve decided to buy a camera and the camera you want, the question becomes “Where do I buy the camera?” Not only do the options abound, so do the opportunities for the unethical to take advantage of you. I buy most of my gear through B&H Camera in New York City. Over the twenty years I’ve been using them I’ve not had a single unresolved problem. There was a time when UPS messed up a delivery, B&H fixed things up. B&H provides good service, reasonable prices and knowledgeable salespeople.

Now I will be the first to admit there are lower prices on the web. I’ve seen used, gray market gear and con artists on E-bay. There are plenty of web sites which will offer prices which are too good to be true…. And they are. A check of will show hundreds of complaints when the price is unbelievably low. Years ago, I actually had to sue one of those places to get my money back. After that experience, I decided to stick with the tried and true, reputable B&H.

More Megapixels?

Hard to believe summer vacation will soon be upon us. With vacations planned, many people dig out their cameras only to discover a new one is needed. If you haven’t bought a camera in years, you’ll discover much has changed. Film cameras are a thing of the past. OK so perhaps you did buy a digital camera years ago. Even so, cameras are much smarter than they were.

The biggest myth about digital cameras is more megapixels are better. Sure they are if you are the salesman getting a commission on the sale. More pixels cost more. Before you head off to the camera store, stop to think about how you use the photos you take. Do you make prints or just keep them on your computer? How big a print do you make?

Let me stop for a moment and mention that just as cameras have been getting better over the years, so have the photo printers. As an experiment with my professional lab, we printed a three megapixel file as a 20×30 print. We also printed the same photo as a six and twelve megapixel file. A host of experts at the lab could find only minor differences at that size and only by looking closely. However, a 20×30 print is supposed to be viewed from about ten feet away. At that distance, our experts could not see a difference!

All of this means is that a three megapixel camera is sufficient for you, the average consumer. A camera with three megapixels is not going to provide you with any better results than a more expensive camera. A bigger concern for your camera is the lens and sensor used to capture the image. Personally, I would rather have higher quality optics/sensor than more megapixels.

How to Take Fun Holiday Photos

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. Time for stuffing. You know its not called stuffing because it is in the turkey. No it is called that because it fill you up! But, I digress. The holidays are time for families. When families get together, people want to remember the day with photos. But how do you get good photos of the family.

First avoid overly bright or dark backgrounds. Next, for most people, let your camera do the work. Today’s cameras really know what they are doing. Now you just have to get a good expression on everybody’s face. Rather than saying cheese, ask your subjects to pretend they are on a roller coaster going down hill. Then say “Weeee!” All but the biggest sourpuss can’t help but smile when they say that.

Halloween Photo Tip

Halloween is just a few short days away. Can you believe it? I’m sure you have your favorite ghoul or princess that you just have to photograph. When taking your child’s photo, remember to come down to their level. If you photograph down on them, you will make them look even shorter than they really are. Furthermore, you may not get to see their faces. When you come down to your child’s level to photograph them, you are seeing them as they really are. You may also get rid of some annoying backgrounds. Finally, don’t worry about getting a smile. As long as your child is not crying, mom will still love the photo, even if they are not smiling!

How to Take Holiday Photos

Holidays are filled with special memories. This is time we spend with friends and family who are dear to us. While enjoying the holiday times, a photo will allow you to remember the day for years to come. Here are a few simple photo tips to help you take photos you’ll cherish for years to come (OK these will not make you a professional photographer).

1) Remember to have fresh supplies of batteries film/memory for your camera.
2) Take photos of people and things which are important to you.
3) Don’t forget the details by taking a close up photo.
4) When photographing the kids, get down to their level.
5) With digital photos, take as many as you want, feel free to experiment you can always delete the photo if you don’t like it.

Should you have any specific photography questions, please feel free to e-mail me at and I will be happy to answer it for you.

What do you mean I can’t make copies of my wedding photos?

What is a copyright or What do you mean I can’t make copies of my wedding photos?

Writers, Movie Producers, Musicians, Photographers and anybody else who creates something is entitled to ownership rights over their creation. For an invention or a hard product, these rights are called a patent and for ideas, it is called a copyright. The founding fathers of the United States granted these rights to inventors and authors to foster the creative process.

When you hire a wedding photographer, you are hiring them to create photographs which allow you to remember your special day. You may also purchase a wedding album or other photos from your wedding day to show your friends and family. Just like you can play a CD or DVD for your friends and family but not make copies, the same goes for photographs. The confusion lies because, this is MY wedding. Unfortunately, the law does not discriminate. The photographer owns the image copyright from the moment they press the button on the camera. It does not matter if they are an amateur or professional photographer.

In today’s digital age, you may purchase or be given a set of digital files or digital negatives. Believe it or not, this still does not give you the right to make copies. If you were to take that disc to any photo store for printing, they would rightfully ask you for the copyright release or usage license. This is the piece of paper the photographer gives you which tells everybody else, you have the photographer’s permission to make your own copies. So if you obtain a set of your digital images, make sure you also obtain from your photographer a letter or form, permitting you to use the digital negatives to make your own copies.