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Video credit: The School of Photography
The great thing about fireworks is that they are these amazing spectacles in the sky. And like all amazing spectacles, they only last for a short time. This makes photographing them a bit of a challenge.
Add in the fact that there are only a few occasions in a year that call for fireworks displays which makes fireworks photography practice a bit tricky. Then again, the techniques used to capture fireworks can be practiced on regular shoots.
Scout your location
You don’t immediately start shooting once you get to a location. You take time to survey the area to look for potential spots where you can take great shots. You might take actual or physical notes on the background elements you’d like to include. The same process can be applied when shooting fireworks.
Switch to manual mode
You need to have control over exposure when shooting fireworks. Although you will most likely be playing with aperture and shutter speed, tinkering with the ISO helps as well. With most fireworks photos, you can start with the following settings: ISO 100, F11, at ½ second. Play with the settings from there depending on what suits you.
Use a tripod
Fireworks photography means long exposures, and with that comes the use of slow shutter speeds. This means that you really have to keep your camera still to get a decent shot. Using a tripod is one of the best ways to achieve this. Since handling your camera while on a tripod can still result in shake, try getting a shutter release cord.
Vary your shots
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A wide shot with all the different bursts looks great, but it’s also monotonous. Like any kind of photography, you need to vary your shots. Sure, there might be a few shots where you want to shoot wide, but focusing on details also make for interesting photographs. But do remember that you have to refocus each time you change focal lengths.
Shoot in bulb mode
In this mode, you can create timed exposures depending on the changing conditions. You can get better results if you use a remote shutter release. What you do is hit the release when the firework launches then let go once the burst has faded.
Choose a location against the direction of the blowing smoke
Photo Credit: Jooinn
This not only makes the shooting conditions more comfortable, it also offers the opportunity for you to use the reflective quality of smoke to create more interesting shots.
Include what is happening around you
Yes, you are there for the fireworks but other people have come to watch as well. Why not include them in your shots? After all, isn’t this part of varying your shots? Doing so adds more interest to your captures as well. When making people the subject of your photo, make sure to expose for their faces, not the light source.
You can start practicing on these during your regular photography sessions. You’ll be more confident by the time the next fireworks display comes around.