Fireworks Displays are something that evoke a great deal of emotion in people since they are not only beautiful and spectacular to watch but they also are often used to celebrate momentous occasions.
I’ve had many emails from readers asking how you can photograph fireworks displays, a number of of whom have expressed concern they might just be too much to really photograph. My solution is always a similar – ‘give it a go – you could be surprised at whatever you end up with’.
My reason behind this advice is always that back when I bought my original BLN-1 Charger one of the first things I photographed was fireworks and I was amazed by how easy it absolutely was and how spectacular the outcome were. I think it’s that much easier with a photographic camera as you can get immediate feedback as to if the shots you’ve taken are perfect or not and then make adjustments.
Of course it’s not simply a matter of going finding a fireworks display – you will find, as usual, things that you can do to improve your results. With 4 July just around the corner I thought I’d share a couple of fireworks portrait digital photography tips.
How to Photograph: What you must Know
Perhaps the most crucial tip is to secure your digicam to a thing that will ensure it doesn’t move through the taking of your shots. This is especially important in photographing fireworks since you’ll be using longer shutter speeds which will not just capture the movement of the fireworks but any movement in the camera itself. The best way to maintain your camera still is using a tripod (read our series on tripods and the way to use and buying them). Alternatively – keep in mind that you’ll find other non Tripod choices for beating camera shake.
One approach to ensure your camera is totally still during fireworks shots would be to invest in a remote release device. These will change from camera to camera but many have some kind of accessory designed for them. The other method of taking shots without touching your camera is usually to use the self timer. This can work nevertheless, you really need to manage to anticipate shots well and it is very very like guesswork (find out more on remote shutter releases).
One with the most difficult parts of photographing fireworks is doing exercises where to aim your camera. The challenge you’ll face in doing this is that you generally need to aim you guessed it-your camera before the fireworks that you’ll be photographing goes off – anticipation is vital. Here are a number of points on getting your framing right.
Scope the location early – Planning is very important with fireworks and having to the location early in order to obtain a good, unobstructed position is important. Think about precisely what is in the foreground and background of your respective shots and be sure you won’t have people’s heads bobbing up to your shots (also consider what impact you’ll have on others around you also). Take note of where fireworks are set up and what parts with the sky these are likely to be shot into – you can also want to try to inquire about some of those setting up the display for the little information about what they may be planning. Also consider what focal lengths you may want to use and select appropriate lenses right now (rather than in the middle of the show).
Watch your Horizons – One thing that you need to always consider when lining up fireworks shots is whether the digital camera is even or straight in it’s framing. This is especially important in the event you’re likely to shooting using a wide focal length and may get other background elements with your shots (ie a cityscape). Keeping horizons straight is one thing we covered previously on this site and is essential in fireworks shots also. As you get you guessed it-your camera on your tripod be sure it’s level right from the time you set up.
Vertical or Horizontal? – There are two main methods for framing shots in most types of photography, vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape). Both can work in fireworks photography but I personally find a vertical perspective is best – particularly as there is often a lot of 80devypky motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots can work in the event you’re opting for more of an landscape shot using a wider focal length of should you’re planning to capture multiple bursts of fireworks within the one shot – but I don’t tend to go there that usually.
Remember your framing – I find that whenever I photograph fireworks that I spend less time looking inside my viewfinder plus much more looking at the sun directly. As a result it’s remember this what framing you’ve got and to observe that segment of the sky. Doing this will also assist you to anticipate the correct time to get a shot as you’ll begin to see the light trails of unexploded rockets shooting into the sun.