Firework Photography 101

Firework Photography 101

The fourth fell on a Thursday this year, and a number of people are celebrating tonight and even this weekend. Fireworks can be a really fun thing to capture in photography; so here are a few basic tips on getting a good shot of those big sparkly explosions of our INDEPENDENCE!

1. Plan Ahead – if you know where the fireworks show is going to be at this year, it always helps to have your composition in mind before even setting up your shot. Think about the frame, visualize it – the horizon can play a huge part in your picture if you want it to be. Some people choose to shoot just the sky, without any other background elements involved. I find it’s incredibly more interesting to encompass the whole scene if you can. If the fireworks display is happening over a river or a city scape, try to include those elements in the shot. Think about what will be happening in the foreground and background as the fireworks are going off, and try to eliminate distractions, such as other people’s heads.

2. Use a Tripod/Choosing your Shutter Speed – this is very important in terms of your shutter speed, which I will touch on in a second. Light trails can be a very cool element in night photography, and using a tripod will eliminate hand shake within those light trails for your firework shots. You want to capture that burst as well as you can – so using a longer shutter will give it the most dazzling effect. However, you don’t want to keep it open too long – fireworks are a bright burst of light and dragging the shutter too long will overexpose your shot. I’d start off with a three second shutter, compensate your aperture for that allotted time, and go from there. Photography is all about experimentation so – trying different shutters with different apertures will give you a different effect every time. Find out what works best for you and run with it!

photo by Dan Anderson

photo by Dan Anderson

3. Choosing the Aperture – because you are working in “low light” (night time) with one big burst of light, you can close down your aperture a little more than you would in daylight. Start off with f/8 and see where that gets you with your shutter speed of three seconds. If you’re finding the image is overexposed, stop down to f/12 and see what difference that makes. Like I said earlier, it’s all about experimentation so – you can play around with opening up and closing down your aperture to get your desired firework effect.

4. ISO – pick a low ISO, it will give you the cleanest shot. Minimal grain and great color. Try an ISO of 100 and you can kick it up slightly depending on your shutter and aperture.

5. Experiment, experiment, experiment! I can’t stress this enough. The more you experiment, the better your firework night photography will be!

Happy Birthday, America! Have fun and be safe out there friends!

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