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Charm City Independence Day

Incorporate landmarks, try long exposures, and experiment with film speeds (ISO) while making photos of fireworks.
Incorporate landmarks, try long exposures, and experiment with film speeds (ISO) while making photos of fireworks.
Antonio D. Paterniti

Another Fourth of July is upon us and it promises to be as spectacular as ever. Celebrating our Nation's independence from Great Britain in 1776, it is a time for family, friends, picnics and fireworks. Communities, towns and cities come alight with sparklers and pyrotechnics.

Antonio D. Paterniti

Baltimore hosts a spectacular fireworks display in the Inner Harbor, launched from barges loaded with pyrotechnics. The Ports America Chesapeake Fourth of July Celebration starts at 4p.m. with the fireworks display starting at 9:30p.m. The fireworks are choreographed to festive and patriotic music. At the helm are pyrotechnic gurus Pyrotechnico.

Families can make a day out of the festivities in the Inner Harbor. Make reservations for the Picnic at the Top held at Top of the World Observation Level of the World Trade Center. The 360 degree panoramic view of Baltimore is second to none and ticket-holding guests stay to watch the fireworks!

The Waterfront Promenade extending nearly seven miles from Fort McHenry to Canton is a great place to see the fireworks. Head out early to find a great spot before the crowds roll in. A stirring place to watch the fireworks is from Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key penned our National Anthem in 1814, but the view from the Baltimore Museum of Industry is a wonderful alternative. The Museum hosts a Fourth of July event from 4p.m. to 10p.m. Advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended.

Across the Inner Harbor, find a cozy space near the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Historic Fells Point. Further along Thames Street, the Broadway Pier is a popular spot for viewing the fireworks. These spaces fill up early so bring a picnic and make a day out of staking out a spot.

Due to the crowds, photographers favoring tripods for long exposures of the fireworks will have to come early to find a non-intrusive spot. Point-and-shooters, use a stable object such as a cooler to get clean crisp shots of the fireworks. Many point-and-shoot cameras now have a Fireworks scene selection in the scene menu. Be aware that to record the image, even though it appears bright to the human eye, the camera shutter needs to stay open longer to absorb light. Therefore, it is easy to capture blur if the camera is not held steadily.

Cell phones now have amazing cameras and can capture multiple shots with minimal stability. However, it is always best practice to stabilize the phone or camera to make a great image. Photographers using digital single-lens reflex cameras, use a tripod, and try timed exposures to capture multiple fireworks in one image. Experiment with ISO or film speed settings depending on the distance from the fireworks and the length of the exposure.

With almost seven miles of promenade, the possibilities for a stunning view of the fireworks are endless. Go early, scout out locations to incorporate well-know Baltimore landmarks such as the USS Constellation, the National Aquarium or the Domino Sugar Factory into your photographs. These components will equal a stunning memory of the Fourth of July.