Fireworks lit up the night during Wednesday night's grande finale at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road.


Capturing fireworks is all about freezing the beauty, color and vast arrays of the spontaneous bursts. Heading out to Casino del Sol for a July 3rd show, I knew I wanted the vibrancy of the firework trails, but also some contextual elements in the foreground.

Had I purely ventured out to shoot the fireworks themselves, I would have set up my camera on a tripod with a cable release and used a lengthy shutter speed (several seconds or more) to allow the trails to “paint” themselves in the frame as they burst and fizzle. But shooting on assignment requires a little more flexibility and, in this case, my hand-holding the camera.

With a long exposure out of the question, I aligned my camera settings up to allow me the longest exposure I was comfortable hand-holding. I set up for 1/20th of a second, a wide f/2.8 aperture and the ISO fell in at about 2500. Shooting in RAW to again allow me some editing room. As the show began, I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time. I hopped around spectators looking for something, preferably someone, to be my foreground so I could crouch down, brace my camera and fire off a few frames as the fireworks went off. Fortunately, a few folks sitting on a ledge gave me a better vantage point to get lower and shoot up as they watched the grand finale.