Photographing Fireworks is always going to be difficult, no matter what the context. The brightness, and the speed by which fireworks appear mean that you can very easily end up with blurry photographs, or can end up receiving nothing at all in the final print. When photographing fireworks, either for a wedding fireworks show, or for more general displays, you need to think about camera placement, avoiding key mistakes, settings, and experimentation, as well as general safety issues. Doing so can ensure that you can build up some reliable techniques for use at future fireworks displays, while avoiding the kind of common mistakes that can ruin shots.
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1 – Setting Up
One of the most frequent mistakes that photographers make at fireworks displays is not getting into the right position for a shot. This is particularly the case in a large crowd, where you’ll find yourself having to dodge between people. A good tripod, and arriving in advance to scope out the area for the display, can help you to set up somewhere where you won’t be as affected by the crowds. As well as a tripod, all beginners’ photographers should consider having a timer release and a remote release to help them to make shots while still taking in the fireworks themselves.
2 – Taking the Right Shots
You can make a camera shot easier by switching on ISO stabilisation if you are finding that movement is affecting your photographer. In terms of accounting for brightness and movement, an ISO of about 100 will work well for most kinds of fireworks. If you want to get a more panoramic shot, it’s worth using a zoom lens, as well as long lenses to bring up different colours.
Shutters can be held down for longer exposure, making sure, however, not to overexpose shots. Stops of somewhere between f/8 and f/16 are generally best for fireworks display, while you can also make use of features lie noise reduction and auto white balance when dealing with a lot of colours that may blur under normal shooting conditions.
3 – Common Problems and Solutions
The main problems you’ll find relate to space, as well as getting the right brightness and speed of shot. Don’t use a flash bulb, as this will end up overlighting what are already bright objects in the sky. Similarly, don’t just rely on sky shots, but try to incorporate different backgrounds and people to get a sense of scale. Be prepared to take a lot of photographs, but look for ways in which you can set up automatically for different shows. Switching between manual and automatic gauges for the first few fireworks is often best as a way of narrowing down what you need.
4 – Safety
No matter the temptation to get in closer at a fireworks show, always keep a good distance, and use long lenses and zoom lenses. There’s no real reason to get close to a lit firework, and you’ll get better shots from further away. Similarly, make sure that your equipment is properly covered and signalled to avoid tripping hazards in the dark, and that you don’t get too close to lit flames or sparklers.