How to Photograph Fireworks

By: Suwat Pongtepupathum

During this celebration period as Christmas, New Year, there will be many firework shows in many places. Therefore, there are a lot of opportunities to photograph firework photos.

What do you need for taking firework photos?

Camera: the one that has “Bulb” shutter speed is preferable.

Wide and normal zoom lens: 10-22 mm, 16-35 mm, 18-55 mm, 24-70mm, etc. Zoom lenses have more flexibility to frame your photos. However, there are no solid rules which focal length should be used because it depends on how far of you and fireworks, how big of the fireworks are, etc.

Tripod: You really need it because of long shutter speed while taking firework photos. You must keep your camera still otherwise your photos will be blurred.

Remote switch: It helps you to keep your camera completely still while photographing firework shots. When you use “Bulb (B)” shutter, you should not press directly to a camera shutter button because it causes the camera to be unstable. Therefore, you can not get sharp and clear photos.

There are some optional things that you may be able to consider as listed below:

Black cap: It’s used for protecting lighting when you want to photograph many fireworks in one shot.

Food and drink: You may wait for awhile before fireworks will be commenced. Therefore, you may need food and drink.

Flashlight: It helps you to find anything in the dark.

Small chair: In case of wait for a long time

Umbrella: In case of raining

Where and when you should go for taking firework photos?

The best place to photograph fireworks should be any tall building around the fireworks area about 0.5-1.5 km from where the fireworks will be shown. You must be able to pan your camera without any obstructions in your viewfinder. Moreover, it should be upwind direction too.

You must go to your location as early as possible because there will be a lot of photographers and speculators. You must remember that the location is everything for taking fireworks photos. The better location you are, the better photos you will get.

How to photograph fireworks?

What you should prepare prior to taking firework photos as follows:

1. Be on location as early as possible and select the best location. The best location is the location where you can see the fireworks without any obstructions and there is interesting foreground or background as buildings, bridges, river, lake, etc.

2. Set your camera on Tripod firmly

3. Set the parameters in the camera as follows:

Mode: M, Manual

Auto focus: Off or Manual

ISO: 100

Shutter speed: Bulb, B

Aperture: vary from F5.6 to F11

Focal length: Infinity

File type: Raw file is preferred because you have more flexibility to process your photos after.

Memory Card: 2 GB at least so that you will not lose your opportunity to take photos due to memory full.

WB: Auto

4. Set good composition by including nice foreground or background as building(s), pool(s), lake(s), bridge(s), river(s), etc. Use rule of third to get the nice composition. There are 2 ways to frame your fireworks photo which are horizontal or vertical. It depends on how your fireworks look like. If your fireworks are one big and long shot, you may need to frame your photos vertically. In other words, if you want to capture wide angle of fireworks, you may need to flame your photos horizontally.

5. Set your remote switch with your camera and test its function.

Let’s photograph fireworks:

1. Once you hear explosion, you start to press and hold a remote switch button. Then you look at the fireworks showing their magic until it disappears and then release the button. Normally, it takes about 5-9 second depending on how long of each firework shot is.

If this is your first shot, please check a photo shown on your LCD and see how the composition and lighting look like. You may need to adjust the camera, the focal length and aperture in order to get the nice composition and lighting. Please do in quickly and continue taking fireworks photos.

2. If you would like to take many fireworks in one shot, please use the following tips:

2.1 When the first firework is shot, press and hold the remote switch button. Then when the first one fades out, put the black cap in front of your lens in order to prevent light coming to your photo while you are still pressing the remote switch button. You must not touch any part of your camera so that your photo will not blur due to camera being moved.

2.2 When the second firework is shot, take the black cap out and wait until the second firework fades out. After that you put the back cap in front of your lens again.

2.3 When you do not want to add any fireworks in your photo, you just release the remote switch button. You can repeatedly use these techniques in order to take many fireworks in one shot. However, you should be prudent with this tip because if you try to take too many fireworks in one shot, your photo will be too over exposure and your photo will be the flashy shot. Normally, I use this tip to get only 2 to 3 fireworks in one shot.

3. Check your photos periodically. You may have time to check your photos because the fireworks are shot periodically. You may change the composition and/or delete some bad photos in order to reserve the memory space.

These are guidelines to help you to photograph fireworks. Let’s try and have fun with fireworks.

Photography
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