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Hello IggleBugs! WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR! For those that have been keeping up, awesome job! You’re a rockstar! If you are a little behind, that’s okay! Just keep on keepin on! The 150 days achievement code is now live, so if you’ve taken photos for 150 days in a row, message me on twitter and I’ll give you the code! The following milestones will be 200, 250, 300, then 365. Each one will be worth one more karma than the one preceding it.

Tweet @IggleBugs for the 7, 30, and 60, 100, and 150 day achievement codes if you need them! You don’t have to upload the pics in a row, but at least make sure you’re taking one every day.  You’ll also find another code in the forums.

For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on here, if you haven’t checked out the IggleBugs lately, you should swing by and have a look at our Photo 365 Challenge thread in the IggleBugs Forum! Join us if you’re looking for a fun photographic challenge for 2014! You don’t need a fancy camera or anything, just a passion for taking pictures! Upload and share however you want, if you want. It’s entirely up to you! The best part about it is you can make your day one whenever you want! So feel free to jump in late, we won’t bite!

I will post seven themes and ideas a week as we go through the year. They won’t be strict assignments, just helpful ideas to get you through the week if you get stuck or feel like you need some inspiration.

Here is the list of helpful ideas for week twenty-seven!

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Now time for our Photography 101! It’s Canada Day, and the Fourth of July is coming up, and that means fireworks! Fireworks are fun to take pictures of, though I admit I’m not the best at taking them. For those stunning photos, you’ve gotta have a good location, a good show, etc. But, I can show you the technique. Maybe some of you have better locations than me!

The basic fireworks photography concept is pretty simple. Your most important tools (other than a camera with a Tv or Shutter Priority Mode) are a tripod and a remote shutter release. Now, I know not all of us have these things, but maybe your camera has a timer function? And a good stable surface will suffice as a tripod in a pinch.

IMG_236630 second exposure

Now, pick your location. Obviously, you wanna be able to see the fireworks. You don’t want to be too close, but you also don’t want to be super far away. Try to get close enough so the fireworks fill the frame for the most part but don’t get cut off. You also don’t want to be in a spot with super bright lights in the background, as these will also be in your photo, and you may get a glare or they just won’t look good with the fireworks. If you can get a good background or foreground frame to add interest to your photo, experiment with that. If not, try to just get a good solid black background. Try to minimize light pollution as much as possible so you can achieve this background.

IMG_23565 second exposure

Set your camera to Tv Mode. This is the shutter priority mode on your camera. It allows you to choose the shutter speed and it does the rest of the work. For fireworks, you want to use a long exposure, because you’re essentially painting with light, the light of the fireworks. You can pretty much choose any shutter speed you want, and I encourage you to play around with it. If you want tons of fireworks, you can do a longer speed like 30 seconds, if you just want one boom, choose a shorter speed like five seconds. Any less than that and you might not get the whole starburst of the firework, especially for the big, complicated, really pretty ones. Now, focus your camera. This is the trickiest part for me. General rule of thumb is to set your focus to infinity, but I haven’t had the best of luck with that (if someone can tell me why, I would love to know.) I will usually set my focus off of the fireworks by focusing when one is bursting and then locking the focus to that distance. If your camera doesn’t have a way to lock focus, these photos might not turn out very well, but it doesn’t hurt to try. It might be able to focus fast enough.

IMG_237810 second exposure

Now, you want to open your shutter before the fireworks go up, because you want to catch the whole burst. Don’t try to react to it. Set your shutter speed a little longer so you can catch the whole thing. This takes a bit of trial and error the first time, trust me. Just stick with it. A remote shutter helps a LOT because it helps prevent camera shake from touching the camera to press the shutter button. Before I had a remote release, I used the timer button. I would pick my setting and set the timer, and hope I could catch the fireworks. It actually worked pretty well, all things considered.

IMG_23966 second exposure

One final note: During the fireworks show finale, it’s going to be tempting to open up that shutter and just get ALL the fireworks in one shot! And you’ll think, man this is gonna be EPIC! Well, it’s actually probably for the best to maybe not do that. Because this will happen:

IMG_240812 second exposure

During the finale, maybe limit yourself to five seconds at the most, especially if it’s a very active finale. Otherwise the fireworks will just cancel each other out and it won’t be as pretty!

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I hope you’ve learned something today! Now, I’m not a certified expert on this stuff, so if you notice a mistake, or if something is confusing and needs clarification, let me know and I will fix it or answer any extra questions! If you have any suggestions, questions, or ideas for future tips, tricks, or tutorials, comment or tweet at me and I’ll address them in future posts!

Have a good week and don’t forget to follow @IggleBugs for updates and encouragement! If you use the hashtag #IggleBugs365, I will try to retweet a few photos every day!

Also, if you want to nominate someone for IggleBug of the Week, tweet @IggleBugs with your nomination!