2014-10-24

How to take great fireworks pictures

With Firework night approaching we have put together a guide to taking great Firework pictures.

Fireworks are a difficult subject but a few accessories and a bit of forward planning will make the task much easier.

Aim to shoot your images early in a display as inevitably smoke and haze will build up as the show goes on.


First, a tripod. A tripod will enable you to use a long exposure time and allow the firework bursts to expose on to your image and build up gradually.

Set your camera up so you have an unrestricted viewpoint - avoid bright areas in your set-up - not a good idea to have a bonfire in the foreground for instance as this will 'burn out' in your shots.

It is sometimes nice to have some objects which will silhouette in your images like trees or even people backlit by the fireworks.

It is also sensible to set up in an area which is not too crowded and take a torch so you can easily see to make settings on your camera.

We would suggest an ISO setting of about 100 and an aperture of around f/8. A standard zoom lens or 50mm equivalent will be fine.

Manual focus set to infinity is the way to go for focussing and set your white balance to cloudy for a slight lift in warmth for the final image.

Set you camera to Bulb mode or even better if it has a T setting. In Bulb mode the camera shutter remains open for as long as the shutter button is held down - as soon as you release the button the shutter closes and the exposure ends.In T mode, the shutter opens when you press the release but then remains open until you press it again.

A remote cord or remote control is useful too as you don't then have to touch the camera- you could use the self times on your camera but this makes it harder to time you initial shutter opening than using a remote.

Some cameras have the option to backlight the control panel - which is very useful for night photography - and lucky Nikon D4/D4s users can also illuminate the buttons on their camera!

Aim your camera at where the fireworks are bursting and try a shot with say a 30 second exposure - that should be enough to record one or two bursts. Check the image and make sure it is not over or under exposed - if all is OK then you can open the shutter again, but this time use a piece of black card to cover the lens - only remove the card when the firework bursts then immediately cover the lens again. Repeat this for 3-4 bursts and then close the shutter - you have now recorded several bursts on one frame. Check the image again and if all is OK repeat for the rest of the display.

If your image is over exposed try stopping the aperture down to f/11 - if under exposed either open the lens up to f/5.6 or increase the ISO to 200.

If you are fortunate enough to own some Olympus Micro 4/3rds cameras with LiveBulb  then you can open the shutter in this mode and watch on the rear screen as the image builds up. Once you are happy with the image need the exposure. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of shooting this type of image.

While you have you camera and tripod why not try some creative shots 'painting with light' get a subject to strike a pose and then go around their outline with a torch leaving you camera shutter locked open.  Another great effect if is you get the person to hold a couple of sparkers and twirl them around.

If you are at a display with a large bonfire there will be opportunities to get some atmospheric shots of people illuminated by the light of the fire and again backlit shots with silhouetted people are very effective too.

We at Park Cameras would love to see any firework shots you are proud of and hope you found this guide useful. Share your photos with us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/parkcameras) and our favourites will find their way into one of our weekly newsletters.

If night photography interests you, Then you can purchase our Night and Low Light Photography book at £14.99. This book takes look at night and low-light photography, featuring examples and, hints / tips. Subjects include: the moon and stars, atmospheric effects, cityscapes, water, industrial light, fireworks, night events, night landscapes, and much more. See in store for details or click here.

Steve
Park Cameras

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