4 Tips on Photographing Fireworks
Today’s post is a guest post from Rob James.
Top Tips For Photographing Fireworks
Photographing fireworks can be difficult, given the speed and brightness by which they appear, and the practical issue of working within a large crowd of people. There are several different ways to think through the process of shooting fireworks, from finding the most stable position for your camera, to using the most optimum settings for different shots. Moreover, it’s worth considering how you can avoid mistakes, as well as being aware of safety and the need to experiment during a fireworks show.
1 – Security and Stability
Your camera should ideally be placed on a tripod that will allow you to maintain a steady shot in a crowd. Difficulties in keeping a camera steady will make it harder to maintain the right focal length and shutter speed for photographing fireworks. A timer release and a remote release will also make it somewhat easier to maintain a distance from your shots, while allowing you to view the show yourself. Alternatively, you can opt to lean against wall or tree, as well as making use of image stabilisation and higher ISO features on your camera.
2 – Settings
Camera settings for a fireworks show should reflect their brightness and fast movement. A low ISO of about 100 is best for fireworks, while a longer and wider focal length, as well as a zoom lens, can help you to produce a range of different shots. For photographing firework explosions, you can use a remote release and an open shutter, held down during the explosion for a maximum exposure. Be careful, though, not to leave the shutter open too long.
A fast lens, and a stop of between f/8 and f/16 is recommended for basic settings. You may also want to alternate between Full Manual and Auto Focus settings, using the latter to get a sense of the shot length, and then adjusting to manual to gauge specific changes. Camera features like auto white balance, and noise reduction are also useful for sharpening up an image, and for separating colours.
3 – Avoiding Mistakes
You should ideally try to scout out a firework show location, and find a spot that gives you the best view from within the crowd. It’s also important to get a sense of what buildings and natural formations might be used in the foreground of a shot. You will also need to give yourself enough space to set up a tripod if using one. In general, avoid using a flash, and look at background actions to see whether anything might disrupt your final frame. In terms of general safety, always observe a safe distance from the fireworks, and don’t be tempted to get closer.
4 – Experiment
Firework shows can take a long time, so be prepared to experiment with different results. In most cases, you will be able to take a lot of pictures, and will be able to get a strong sense of the best settings to use on the night within the first few photographs. Once you have this in mind, future firework shows will be easier to plan for.
Rob James loves to photographer working in conjunction with Dynamic Fireworks UK specialist in fireworks for weddings. He can be found blogging about many different photography techniques.