Summer is the season for viewing and photographing fireworks. Everyone can do it—all you need are fireworks, a camera and a little bit of planning.
Use a tripod
If you are going to be photographing fireworks, you will need a tripod. As you will be working in the dark and exposures are likely to be 10secs or more, the camera must be fixed securely in place so that no camera movement can ruin your shot. Also, ensure that all three legs are tightly locked so they won’t slip. Even a minuscule amount of movement can spoil the image, so don’t take that chance.
Remember to switch off any image stabilisation in your lens because it won’t be necessary when the camera is on a tripod – and it could cause the image to blur slightly.
If it’s so dark that you can’t see your hand in front of your face, how are you going to focus? The simplest method is to manually focus the camera to infinity, which should be marked on your lens. You will typically be far enough from the fireworks so that once the lens is set to infinity, you can just leave it there.
Alternatively, shine a torch onto something approximately one-third of the way into the scene and focus on that point. This could be the heads of the crowd watching the fireworks display, for example.
Scout out your location in daylight
If you intend to visit a local fireworks display, then it’s worth casing the joint first! Find out where the fireworks are going to be released from and where the front of the crowd will be, as it will help give you an idea of where best to set up. Look for high ground to shoot from, and consider what is in the background and anything that can be used to give your image a fresh twist.
Play with the exposure
It is all too easy to underexpose or overexpose your fireworks shots. If you find that your fireworks look too bright, try altering your settings to achieve a darker sky and crisper fireworks.
If you’re lucky enough to be photographing fireworks near water, then reflections work well. Being further from the display might mean fewer crowds to contend with too!
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