How to take a Sparkler Picture

4th of July in South Carolina at my Grandmother’s lake house (on Marlowe Lane) is like a dream. You hang out all day on the lake waterskiing, tubing, fishing or just lounging around. Then in the evening my Aunt and Uncle cook an amazing shrimp and sausage boil with a full country spread for dinner. Always so delicious! And after the sun sets, it is time for fireworks and s’mores! We aren’t able to shoot off fireworks back home in Colorado, so having a front row seat on the lake for fireworks is magical!

South Carolina Summer

After fireworks one year, we decided to have some sparkler fun and do the ever-popular sparkler writing. Our sister, Jenny Marvin, took the sparkler picture! She is an amazing Photographer and singer! Check out her photography at then head to to see their amazing rocking band out of Nashville.

Attachment-1How we took the sparkler picture:

  1. We made sure to pick a spot at the lake where it was dark without a lot of ambient light coming into the picture.
  2. My sisters and cousins stood in line holding 24 inch sparklers. Each person practiced writing their letter backwards because you want to write the word out from the photographer’s perspective. The easiest way to figure out and picture how the writing should be is to write the word on a piece of paper and then turn it around to visualize how the person holding the sparkler will need to write it.
  3. Jenny then set the camera to Manual mode. She used the Bulb setting so she could ’start’ and ‘finish’ the shot which took about 6 seconds to capture the sparkler writing. She set the ISO to 100, the aperture to f/6. You may need to adjust it up or down depending on your specific shot. We had to adjust it a number of times.  If you don’t know how to adjust your Manual mode settings on your camera, you can google your type/brand of camera and easily see how to do it!
  4. Jenny set her DSLR camera up on a tripod to make sure it did not wiggle and blur the picture.
  5. Then, we lit the sparklers, got out of the way and hit the Shutter button once to ‘start’ the shot.
  6. Each person went back and forth through the letter a few times while the camera was catching the shot. Remember, they had to write the letter backwards:)
  7. Then she hit the shutter button again to ‘stop’ the shot after about 6 seconds. You have to be very careful that you don’t wiggle the camera when hitting the shutter button the second time or it will blur the picture.

I will say, it definitely took a few shots to get it right. Someone would mess up a letter on accident, write it the wrong way, or the camera would need an adjustment, but everyone was laughing, having fun and we created a fun Fourth of July memory at the lake!

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July! A big THANK YOU to all the service men and women who have fought for our freedom. You are so deeply appreciated!

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