Tag Archives: photo tips
In honor of Canada Day and the 4th of July, I figured I would post this because man I love taking pictures of fireworks. There is just something freakin cool about nailing a big burst as it lights up the sky. The best thing is that they are not very hard to take if you plan a little and know what you want to do.
Here is my down and dirty list to taking great shots. Use these as a basis and experiment for your own personal look.
- Use a tripod. If you can’t use a tripod, put the camera down and enjoy the fireworks with your family and friends. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it more. I’m serious, stop now if you don’t want to bring the tripod.
- OK you can shoot them handheld if you shoot fast enough and at a high enough ISO, but you won’t like them as well and you won’t get the really cool shots.
- Get there early to pick a prime spot. Since you HAVE A TRIPOD you need to make sure you have room. Waiting until 9:45 to set up for a 10:00 PM show is asking for trouble. Big shows = big crowds.
- Be aware of obstructions to your view. Sure you are generally shooting UP but tree branches, power lines etc can get in the way of your photo and ruin a good shot. I find getting rid of that stuff in PS hard in this kind of night shot so try to avoid it.
- If you can ask where the fireworks will detonate. Knowing where they explode is a great help in picking a spot and composing your picture.
- Think about your finished product. Do you want close up shots of the bursts themselves, or do you want the bigger picture with the surroundings in the shot (like the above photo). Compose BEFORE the show starts if you can.
- Use a remote trigger if possible.
- Set your camera to manual. Your ISO should be set as low as possible (100 or 200 is the norm for most DSLRs). Aperture should start at F11 and your shutter speed should be set in the 2 – 5 second range. The above shot was 5 seconds. Take a few shots and look at the results when the show starts. If things are too bright, raise the Aperture to F14, 16 etc.
- Once you see where the fireworks are, focus ONCE and turn auto-focus off. You do not want the camera guessing for the focal point.
- Shoot as the fireworks rocket into the sky so you see the “tail.” If you have your shutter speed right, you’ll see the streak, the burst and the light trails as the burst drifts.
- Experiment with keeping your shutter open longer to get multiple bursts in one photo. This can look really cool but be careful of the light. A long exposure will blow out the highlights in your surroundings – if that’s important to you, make your Aperture smaller (bigger number). Go from f/11 to f14 or 16 for example.
- Did I mention a tripod?
- Have fun and be safe.