There has been a serious lack of photography output between Sydney and I recently… so when we heard that there was going to be a fireworks show on the Hudson River to welcome in the Lunar New Year, we dusted off our cameras and set plans that weekend to catch the show. Neither of us has really photographed fireworks before, so it was a good opportunity to kinda experiment. Here’s our learning experience for your benefit.
Though we knew that the show was along Hudson River, there wasn’t much info about the viewing spots online. Thankfully after mentioning it to a coworker, he let me know he saw it last year just north of the Lincoln Tunnel. Prime viewing spots for the New York side and New Jersey side would be anywhere along the West Side highway between Piers 90-94 and Hamilton Park in Weehawken, respectively. We opted for Hamilton Park in Jersey, which offered a really nice overlook of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline.
Whichever you choose, I definitely suggest getting there an hour early. The fireworks began at 8:30pm, but we got to our spot at around 7:45pm only to find that a decent crowd of photographers had already camped out at the best locations. Though there might have been many more people if it wasn’t below-freezing weather that night. Also, we managed to get lucky and somehow nabbed a parking spot right along the street of where the overlook was. We could have watched the fireworks from the comforts of inside our car if we wanted to. Definitely go early.
Equipment & Settings
- Me: Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40mm, shutter release cable, tripod
- Sydney: Nikon D800, 18-35mm, tripod
At the very least, bring a tall tripod and a lens wide enough to capture the scene. Tripod height ended up being an issue for me due to the iron fence that bordered the edge of the park. Sydney’s 60″ tripod provided enough lift where the gate wasn’t issue. On the other hand, my tripod was too short and I had to shoot from a lower angle between the posts of the fence.
A shutter release cable will come in handy since even the slight movement of pressing the shutter on your camera will result in some camera shake that’ll cause your photos to come out blurry. Shooting in timer mode with automatic bursts works as well – a low maintenance method that lets you focus less on trying to capture the perfect photos and more on enjoying the fireworks themselves.
As for camera settings, here’s what we pretty much used for our photos:
- Me: ISO 100, f/8.0, 2 seconds
- Sydney: ISO 100, f/11, 5 seconds
This will depend on your own style and preference, but I found that these were a good starting point and you could adjust as needed. Remember to set the lens on manual focus!
Again, this was a learning process for us so take it with many grains of salt and hopefully some of these tips help. But if you haven’t seen this show yet, I highly recommend catching it next lunar new year!