As we near the last quarter of the year, we’re getting closer to the busiest time for fireworks once again. These breathtaking visual displays are always a joy to watch, so much so that you may even want to capture them in photographs that you can always look back to.
However, fireworks photography can be quite tricky. The rapid changes in colour and brightness can make it particularly difficult for you to get the focusing and exposure right. Without practice, you can end up with disappointingly blurry shots.
To help you prepare for the upcoming festivities and take your fireworks photography skills up a notch, here are some smart tips and tricks worth following:
1. Always Have a Tripod With You
Securing your camera with a tripod not only helps you keep it steady without straining your arms but also helps you take clearer shots.
Longer shutter speeds are used in fireworks photography because it helps capture the movements of light effectively. However, if you do not secure your camera, it is most likely to capture its own movement too and produce fuzzy, underwhelming photos.
2. Plan Your Shots
One of the most challenging parts of capturing pyrotechnics is that it is always changing. If you want to capture a certain view, you must act fast because it can disappear in a second or two.
To work around this, it’s a smart practice to plan your shots and anticipate the best framing even before the show starts.
You may visit the location ahead of time to find a position where you can get a good, unobstructed view of the display. This enables you to arrange your equipment to avoid people’s heads appearing in your shots—without obstructing others’ view as well.
Take note of where the fireworks are being set up to give you an idea of what focal length to use and how to set up your framing.
3. Use Middle Range Apertures
Fireworks emit fast but intensely bright streaks of colour. To capture the intensity well, a smaller aperture (somewhere around f/8 to f/16) is your best bet. Using wide-open aperture will most likely overexpose the colours and produce a “burned out” image.
4. Don’t Keep Your Shutter Open Too Long
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need a long exposure to capture the fireworks well as they are a moving subject. Shooting in ‘bulb’ mode is a smart idea because this allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you are pressing the shutter button.
The trick is to press the button as the firework is about to explode and hold it for a few seconds until the explosion stops. The long exposure will help you achieve sharper images.
That said, you must not keep your shutter open for too long. Remember that pyrotechnics emit bright lights; this intensity can easily overexpose your camera.
5. Use low ISO
Your best bet would be to set your ISO to 100 or 200. This allows you to take clean shots as higher ISO can create more noise into your images.
Furthermore, you must remember that you’re shooting at nighttime. The backdrop during these times has loads of blue in it, which is something that easily attracts a grainy veil.
Pyrotechnics can be a challenging subject, but you will be able to achieve stunning photographs soon by following the five tips mentioned above. Aside from this, you must keep experimenting and checking your results.
You won’t likely get it all right the first time you try, but keep on going anyway! As long as you put in the consistent effort and practice, you’ll soon be able to produce fireworks photography that will make everyone’s jaws drop!
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