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How to take a good Fireworks Pictures
The main challenge in fireworks photography is the composition rather than the exposure. As always, planning ahead is the key. Get there early and check with the organizer as well as the person who is in charge of fireworks the actual time frame, location and direction of fireworks will be lunched and the heights at which they’re likely to explode. Choose a more distant vantage place where you can shoot the fireworks from a “level” view rather than having to point your camera directly upwards. Make sure you position your tripod so that you’ll avoid streetlights and people walking into the frame, and more importantly, walking into you and your gear. Timing’s still important, even with long exposures, and don’t be afraid to crop the image to tighten up composition later.
Essential gear for fireworks photography
Camera – Preferred any basic DSLR
Lens – Any lens or kit lens, but preferred wide angle lens, wide angle lens allowed us to capture more scenes included surrounding buildings.
Tripod – You need a steady tripod to minimize camera shake
Cable release – it is a must if you plan to use your camera “B” or Bulb setting to record fireworks.
Fully charged batteries – need extra back-up batteries.
Memory cards – need extra memory cards.
Torch – In addition to helping you find your way around in the dark, and helping you to check your camera setting in the dark.
1. Be ready for action
Check your camera bag and ensure that all essential gears are in your camera bag.
Take plenty of blank memory cards and charged batteries, now is the time to invest in a spare one for your camera as long exposures and cold temperatures place greater energy demands on them. Make sure you take a small torch as well, invaluable for helping you to quickly adjust camera setting and spotting dropped lens caps!
2. Keep it steady and pre-focus
Mount your camera on a sturdy tripod, you'll be using long exposure times. Use a cable release or remote release to trip the shutter to ensure you’re not creating camera shake or select the shortest self-timer option your camera offers. Switch to manual focus and focus at infinity, you won’t need to adjust this during the display.
3. Get the exposure right at the start
Don’t rely on your camera to get the exposure right, the combination of dark sky and bright fireworks can play havoc with auto exposure modes. Instead, select manual exposure mode, set the ISO to 100 and the aperture between f/8 and f/16. If you opt for ISO200 instead, set the aperture between f/11 and f/22.
4. Experiment with shutter speeds
There is no definitive shutter speed for capturing fireworks, we’ve seen successful shots made at one second, 30 second and beyond. Start with an exposure of 10 seconds and adjust accordingly after you’ve check the LCD. Used your camera’s Bulb(B) setting and hold the shutter open (using cable release) for exposures longer than 30 seconds.
5. Get the best quality pictures
When shooting fireworks, we’d recommend shooting RAW files rather than jpegs as, with careful processing (and a good lens), you’ll get the best quality possible from your camera. White balance inaccuracies can be rectified and exposure can be refined to produce beautiful dark skies and explosions fizzing with color.
Keep the ISO as low as possible to minimize noise and turn ON noise reduction for long exposures.