New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July are great times to think about photographing fireworks. With a little practice and a few pieces of equipment you can get some great shots.
First of all you will probably need a tripod, clamp, or beanbag. Some way to stabilize your camera is important. Most of the time fireworks shots require slower shutter speeds. It will also be helpful if you have an electronic or mechanical shutter release. This is a device that plugs into your camera and allows you to have your hands away from the camera when you fire the shutter. Using this technique reduces camera shake. Make sure that you get the one that is correct for your camera model. Most DSLRs have electronic shutter releases available for under $30. Make sure you buy the correct one for your model camera. Here are some examples:
For Canon http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/70561-REG/Canon_2469A002_RS_60E3_Remote_Switch.html
For Nikon http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/580879-REG/Nikon_25395_MC_DC2_Remote_Release_Cord.html
Here's the technique. Get there a little early so that you can secure a spot for yourself and your tripod. If your tripod has a hook on it, hang your camera bag on it to stabilize it even more (people have a tendency to brush up against and kick tripods). Set your camera somewhere between 800 and 1600 ISO. By now you should know what ISO gives you too much noise in your shots and stay away from it. Put your camera in manual mode and set your shutter speed somewhere around 1 second. Set your aperture somewhere around f4 to f8. If you can see where the fireworks are launching from (a barge or platform) pre-focus on that, recompose your picture so to capture the entire sky, and turn your auto focus off. By doing this your camera is not searching for what to focus on when you fire the shutter. If you leave your camera on auto focus the shutter will not fire until it focuses on the subject. When the fireworks start, watch a few sequences. Listen for the initial bang which sends the fireworks into the air, then count how many seconds it takes for the aerial display to go off. There is usually a 1 to 2 second delay. Take your shutter release in your hand, listen for the initial bang, count for one second, then open your shutter by pushing the button. With a little practice your timing will get better. Take a look at some of your images and check the exposure. If it's too dark either open your lens up (use f4 or f2.8) if you can, or raise your ISO. If your exposure is too bright, drop your ISO first -try 400- then begin stopping down your lens ( f11 – f16). Another way to shoot is by putting your master dial on "B" for Bulb. Your shutter will open as soon as you push the remote shutter button, and stay open until you release it.
Take composition into consideration. Fireworks in the sky look great. But consider adding something else to your pic like a person- a child watching fireworks makes for great picture:
|Even black and white photos work especially when composed well.|
If you can get to a high location, shooting down on fireworks with other subjects in the foreground make for great photograph as well
If you are not sure what shutter speeds and apertures are, think about taking an intro to photography class to better learn what your camera can do!
Get out and try this soon. Photographing fireworks is a lot of fun. Don't forget to stay safe and away from anything that might damage your equipment (or you). If it is really smokey refrain from changing your lenses often.
Keep Hitting That Shutter Button!
For information on other Tampa photography classes, digital photography classes, and Tampa photography workshops feel free to call me or look under the Tampa Photography Classes section. I also give private individual lessons on camera operation and making better photographs and would love to work with you one on one to make you a better photographer. Photography instruction gift certificates are also available. They make great gifts for the photo enthusiast in your life. Let's talk about what you need! 813-786-7780. See you in class!
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