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I planned to be totally ready to photograph the fireworks at Nims Lake on July Fourth. Several days before the fireworks display I scouted out my vantage point. I brought along my 70-200mm lens which would give me the option to zoom in on the bursts and back out to capture the lake and the gazebo. I looked carefully through the lens finder to see if the 70mm would cover the entire lake and a large area above the water. Everything looked perfect. At 9:00 PM on July 4th I went back to my site and set up my camera on a tripod. I carefully focused on the pavilion using live view at full power. I then switched off live view and set the lens and camera to manual focus. That locked the focus in case I bumped the lens in the dark. I brought my ISO down to ISO-125 (a higher setting wasn’t needed and a warm summer’s night might cause unwanted pixilation). I selected f8 as my aperture setting. My initial shutter speed was 5 seconds (I later dropped it to 4 seconds). Then the show started. I instantly realized that my choice of the 70mm was WRONG! The fireworks were exploding far above the lake. I rotated my camera to a vertical setting and was able to photograph the explosions perfectly, but now I couldn’t see the lake and the gazebo. Next year I’ll have to bring a 35mm lens and a 16-35mm lens. HINT: I purchased a flashlight with a strong LED light to help me set up the camera in the fading light. It came with a red light on the back that I used to protect my night vision once the fireworks started. A helpful hint because you will always need to make a minor adjustment at some point during a night shoot. The red light helps protect your night vision.

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