- Night and Low-Light Photography Photo Workshop
- The Low Light Photography Field Guide
- The Complete Guide to Digital Night & Low-Light Photography
- Complete Digital Photography
- Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark
- Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques
Fireworks are some of the most popular celebratory events throughout the world. Many major U.S. cities, for example, attract hundreds of thousands of people to annual Fourth of July displays. The color, the crowd and the exciting atmosphere are perfect subjects for any digital photographer. You’ll learn a number of tips that will help you capture the spectacular nature of fireworks when you read this series of PhotographyTalk.com articles. It may be challenging at first, but digital photography, of course, makes it easy to practice and experiment and review your results by taking many pictures, so you can do a better job the next time.
Steady Your Camera with a Tripod.
Because you must shoot at a longer shutter speed to take sharp fireworks pictures, you’ll need a tripod. You might want to try the zoom effect during a fireworks display (See the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—Zoom While You Shoot for Amazing Images).
Don’t Touch Your Camera.
A tripod is only the first piece of equipment to steady your camera while photographing fireworks. A remote shutter release is also required. Even the movement of pressing the shutter release with your finger (with your camera on a tripod) will likely cause your fireworks photos to be blurred. You can also set the self-timer to release the shutter, but it may trip just before or after the colorful burst you wanted to capture. Using a self-timer takes some practice to learn how to anticipate the shot you want, and set the timer correctly.
Composing Your Digital Photo.
Anticipation is the critical skill to be able to compose a spectacular fireworks photo. The action occurs so quickly that you must select your camera’s exposure and framing and be ready to release the shutter instantly.
Being ready generally starts by scouting the location of the fireworks in advance. Choose a shooting position that will provide a full view of the part of the sky where they fireworks will appear. Consider the foreground and background when choosing that position. You don’t want the back of spectators’ heads at the bottom of your photos (and you don’t want to be a distraction either). Know from where the fireworks will be launched and talk with the fireworks company people, if possible, to confirm your observations and shooting position. Once you explored the area, return to your shooting position with your camera and a variety of lens. Try your set-ups, with different lens, to determine in advance the lenses you’ll want.
Make sure your camera is parallel to the horizon. Add a spirit level to your camera body to help you make it level. If you shoot with a wide-angle lens, then a crooked horizon line will be obvious.
Shoot in the horizontal, or landscape, image mode if you want to show more of the foreground (the crowd) and/or the background (a city’s skyline). Turn your camera 90 degrees to the vertical, or portrait, image mode to show more of the sky, so you can capture the vertical element of fireworks displays.
All this preparation is also necessary because, as you gain more experience taking digital photos of fireworks, you’ll learn that it’s better to watch the sky than to look through the viewfinder. You want to be sure you are correctly framed because you’ll be able to follow the trajectories of the fireworks, so you can anticipate where and when they will explode.
Digital photos of fireworks displays will be some of the most spectacular images in your portfolio with the tips in this two-part PhotographyTalk.com article.