Festivals and celebrations with fireworks present great opportunities for you to photograph something different. If you would like to try photographing fireworks, this article should point you in the right direction.
1. Use a Tripod
Typically, you will need to use long exposures to capture fireworks and hence the necessity of a tripod. In the absence of a tripod, rest the camera on an alternative support such as a wall. Don’t try hand held photography for shutter speeds below 1/30 sec.
2. Cable Release
A cable release eliminates the possibility of camera shake as a result of pressing down the shutter. Some modern cameras even come with wireless remote. If you are using very long exposures, a cable release is a definite aid. They aren’t very expensive either.
3. Know what to Expect
One of the challenges when trying to compose a fireworks shot is trying to guess where the fireworks will light up, before they actually do! Usually it is a good idea to aim for the space above a building or above an open ground, where you could expect people to light up their fireworks.
4. Shoot Wide
It is a good idea to zoom out and shoot at wide angle. Not only would this minimize the chances of missing out on the fireworks display, you also get more depth of field on the wider end of the zoom.
It is often wrongly believed that you need a large aperture like f2, to shoot fireworks, On the contrary, you are going to be shooting AT a light source, so f8 or even f16 should work just fine.
6. Shutter Speed
If your camera has a bulb mode, use it! The bulb mode opens the shutter when you fire the shutter release once, and stays open until you fire it again. Alternatively, use multiple exposures of say 30 sec each. You are bound to get lucky with the fireworks nicely captured on at least one frame.
Since you are shooting a light source, a low ISO like ISO 100 should suffice. It will also minimize the noise on your photographs. Remember, the lower the ISO the cleaner your images will look, and the higher the ISO the higher the grain.
8. Force the Flash Off
For one thing, the flash will have no effect on the actual exposure, and for another it will fool your camera into firing off a fast shutter speed. Ideally you need to shoot in the manual mode.
9. The Manual Mode
If your camera has a manual mode, nothing like it. This allows you to set your exposure, force the flash off and focus the lens at a particular distance, and then wait for the fireworks.
10. Monitor your Work
It is good to use the camera preview after a few shots. Make sure your exposure is spot on. It is easy to over expose your photographs when shooting fireworks!