With the new year fast approaching, one thing you can count on seeing over the next couple of days is fireworks. So how do you go about photographing fireworks?
Well, the good news is that it’s quite easy but there are a few things you’ll need. First, make sure that you have a camera that can be operated manually. Look for a “B” or bulb setting. You’ll also want to be able to focus manually. If you leave autofocus on and try to take photos like that, it’ll just hunt for something to lock onto in the black sky and you won’t get anything. Once you have the camera, you’ll need a sturdy tripod. This is a must as we are going to have exposure times of a few seconds and any camera shake will ruin the picture. Some kind of remote release is required as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s wired or wireless, as long as it’ll let you trip the shutter without needing to touch the camera.
t doesn’t matter how many auto modes your camera has. All those little icons of flowers and mountains are useless for fireworks. With your lens set to MF, focus on something in the distance. Once you are happy, recompose so that the camera is pointing to the area of sky where the fireworks will be but make sure you don’t change the focus. You may not need to do this if you are in an area with buildings, bridges etc.
With your ISO set to 100, shutter set to B, aperture between f8 and f16 and remote release in hand you are ready. Selecting an aperture between f8 and f16 gives you plenty of depth-of-field, and the shutter at B allows you to leave the shutter open for as long as you like. Press and hold the release button once to start the exposure and let go to stop it. A little trial and error may be required, so take as many shots as you can, with differing shutter times. If you can see the place where the fireworks are being launched from, you could try opening the shutter when you see the launch and closing it when the firework goes out. Or, you could leave it open and catch a few bursts of fireworks on the same exposure – hold a black card in front of the lens between bursts to cut down on any stray light.
Good luck and remember to stay safe and warm when you’re out photographing fireworks on these cold winter nights.
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