With the 4th of July quickly approaching here in the United States, the topic of taking great fireworks photos is frequently brought up. The answer is relatively simple and comes down to two things: 1) a method to trigger the camera and 2) a rock solid camera mount. We think we have a great solution for both.
1. Triggering the Camera with Triggertrap
Our friends over at Triggertrap have what we think is the best way to trigger your camera to take fireworks. First, let me explain what Triggertrap is. Triggertrap is a combination hardware and mobile app solution to remotely fire your camera. The mobile app is free and you purchase Triggertrap Mobile hardware based on which camera you own:
While triggering the camera remotely will help you get a steady photo preventing camera blur, it doesn’t necessarily make taking firework photos foolproof. Here is where Triggertrap really shines. Using the app on your phone or tablet, you can set it to trigger based off sound (the loud explosion of the fireworks), motion (the firework shooting up into the sky) or simply on time-lapse mode (Star Trails mode). First, try these recommended settings on your camera:
- A low ISO – 100 or 200
- A smaller aperture than you might think. Fireworks are pretty bright. f/8.0 is a good starting point but feel free the experiment.
- Shoot in RAW. You’ll be able to really make these shots look good by editing them in your favorite software program.
Second, you’ll need to set your shutter speed. You have two options here. One is to use bulb mode – the setting that keeps the shutter open until you decide to close it. In this mode, use the Triggertrap in the Star Trails mode. Here you can set how long of a duration you want. Try setting for a 3 second exposures with a 200ms gap between them. You should walk away with some pretty good shots. Since Sound and Motion (in Sensor mode) won’t work in bulb aperture, you’ll need to go full manual and set the shutter speed yourself. Again, try 3 second exposures and see how it goes. Note that motion mode works off the motion in front of the phone or tablet, not the motion in front of the camera which leads perfectly into #2.
2. Mounting your Camera and Tablet
If you’re going to be taking 3+ second exposures, you obviously need to lock your camera down on your favorite sturdy tripod. But, if you’re using your tablet or phone to trigger the camera via Triggertrap, we recommend using a mount to lock that down as well. Especially considering that this solution will be completely automated once you get going, there is no reason to touch it and potentially introduce some camera shake.
Both kits utilize the EasyGrip to mount to your tripod leg. For the differences between the two kits, check out our tablet mounting page. Make sure you mount the tablet facing you so you can easily access the TriggerTrap app. If you are using the Motion detection trigger, position it so the camera has a clear view of the sky and isn’t triggered by motion of other people, passing cars or any other movement. The TriggerTrap Mobile cable should easily stretch from your camera to the headphone port on your tablet.
If you are using your phone, consider using the Rock Solid Smartclip Universal Phone Bracket with 1/4″-20 Thread. You can the purchase the Rock Solid EasyGrip ST in order to mount it to your tripod or get the bracket with an arm you can attach directly to your camera’s hot shoe with the Look Lock System.