Let Freedom Ring

It’s that time of year again—where you can’t walk outside without smelling burgers and brats on the grill. Summertime is my favorite time to get together with friends and family. Of course, with that, it’s also the perfect time to take out your camera and get some great shots of you and your loved ones.

For the July 4th festivities this year, I carried around the Sony A7 with the 28-70mm Sony lens. My goal was to get unique, long exposure images of fireworks—different from all the ones that I constantly see cluttering my newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram during this time of year. The downside to this was the unpredictability of the fireworks as well as the short time frame in which I had to shoot.  Having never shot fireworks before, I was nervous about getting good images for this post.  With long exposures and camera processing times, I knew there was a limited amount of pictures I could take.

I had never been to the Gahanna fireworks and decided to go right after work on July 3rd with one of my good friends, Alison (she’s my go-to photo assistant as her dad was a photographer for 40 years).  We were expecting a small group of people with it being the same night as Columbus’ Red, White, and BOOM!, but the place was packed with people, including food vendors and even a stage with a band.  Not only was it a perfect view for the Gahanna fireworks, but it was also situated on top of a hill looking over the city of Columbus, so we were able to see Red, White, and BOOM! from farther away.

f/18, 8 sec.

Having  the Three Legged Thing tripod with me was key, and probably my most valuable accessory for that evening.  It’s compact size and durability was perfect for not only stabilizing the camera, but also for the busy and crowded environment I was working in.  Typically when I go to a fireworks show, I just have my camera phone.  Without a tripod and the poor low-light quality of my phone’s camera, I never get a good, detailed shots of fireworks like I was able to get this time around.

f/22, 13 sec.
f/22, 13 sec.

With the fireworks so far away, I set my camera to manual focus and adjusted the distance to infinity. Using a 8x neutral density filter, I was able to get several fireworks in one shot while keeping a stark black background. My shutter was set between 6 and 30 seconds because of the filter and what I wanted to capture.

f/18, 30 sec.
f/18, 30 sec.

I focused on shooting with a low ISO at 400 to keep noise reduced. Too high of an ISO would have caused the black sky to become more noisy as well as take away from the fireworks.

f/18, 8 sec.

I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the WIFI capabilities of the Sony A7. It was easy to set up the PlayMemories Mobile application on my iPhone that allowed my camera to receive pictures straight from shooting.  I loved this feature because I’m the type of person who likes to instantly post images to social media (I can’t help it) and I also knew I wouldn’t be able to upload the images to my computer until later in the weekend.  This feature came in handy when taking pictures throughout the weekend with my friends, too, and because of the ease of use, we took more pictures with the camera than with our phones.

f/20, 6 sec.
f/20, 6 sec.

Take advantage of the summer months and the times you get to spend with family and friends and take your camera wherever you go!  Whether it’s a point-and-shoot, camera phone, or a professional full-frame like the Sony A7, make sure you capture all your summer memories.


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