Top Ten Tips for fantastic fireworks photos!
“ Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot! “
In these days of social media world domination, it seems that nothing “should ever be forgot”. No sooner have you started enjoying any kind of experience, you can be sure that someone is already posting it all over social media!
So if you are hosting or attending any kind of fireworks party this November, photography is an inevitable part of the proceedings. But if you fancy having a go at taking a few photos yourself, how can you make sure that the end result is worth it? How can you capture the spectacular colours and patterns of the fireworks, rather than just ending up with an amorphous blob of colour?
Here are Top Ten Tips for some amazing fireworks photography this year!
Location – location – location
We’ve said it before and will do so again! But one of the most important factors to get good photos is to be in the right place. You need to think not just about how well you can see the fireworks but also the best background to photograph them against. So plan ahead as to where you want to place yourself and make sure you get there early to get your spot.
Smoke gets in your eyes!
Not just your eyes but the shot as well! Whilst it’s tempting to think about taking most of your shots later in the event – as you assume they’ll save the best till last – remember that the longer the show goes on the more smoke there will be in the sky. Whilst this can give quite an ethereal look, it doesn’t help if you want to get some good clear shots.
Make sure you have the best equipment for the task in hand. We would definitely recommend a sturdy tripod which will be able to hold your camera steady for several seconds, ensuring it does not wobble or fall or sink into the mud! You can use a remote to trigger the camera, enabling you to enjoy the fireworks first hand whilst also lining up some great shots.
Some of this is trial and error, and you will need to experiment with settings to get the best result for you. But try setting your camera to Manual exposure with an f8 (or perhaps f5.6) aperture. An aperture in this range will keep the fireworks light streaks quite thin and not too over exposed, which should hopefully get you some great shots.
Again, you will need to experiment but try setting your shutter speed to somewhere in the range 2-10 seconds. You can have a trial run before the show to try and get the exposure time just right for the brightness of sky that you are looking for.
Keep your ISO low
For a situation such as fireworks you can make great use of the ISO to control your camera’s sensitivity to light. Try setting it really low – 100 or 200 – so that it is less sensitive to light. This will increase the chances of you getting some good clean images rather than grainy “noisy” results. You may find, however, that if it is a very dark night you need to increase the ISO to get a decent exposure.
It is a really good idea to spend time focussing your lens on where you are going to want to shoot, and then ahead of time, and then turning the focus off: this is so that the camera does not keep trying to refocus every shot. Hopefully once you’re happy with it, you won’t need to refocus at all unless you decide to photograph shots from a different angle or distance.
Needless to say, when you are setting up your focus and frame, don’t underestimate the extent of the fireworks. Go large, as they say! If you realise after the first few shots that you need to expand your frame either vertically or horizontally then take the opportunity to readjust as needed. Don’t worry if you miss a few shots in the process: quality is always better than quantity.
Zoom: flying high in a neon sky
If you get a chance try playing around with your zoom lens. Focus at what will be the most zoomed point of the lens then try different zooming techniques and see what results! Try zooming fast and slow; more bursts and less. Try to include some different backgrounds in the shots too. Happy zooming!
Telephoto shots enable you to focus on smaller details in a larger scene. So if you want to try some more experimental shots your camera try some telephoto shots for something a bit more abstract. To do this you will fundamentally need to aim into thin air and do your best to anticipate where the action will happen.
Visit our photo gallery for more inspiration.