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  1. #1
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    Article: 5 Tips for Photographing Fireworks

    Here is an article I published on my website about fireworks photography. I hope it'll be useful to some of you in this forum.

    5 Tips for Photographing Fireworks
    by Gary Hendricks


    Imagine youíre at a celebration event, camera in hand, waiting for a fireworks display. Thereís a certain excitement when you shoot pictures of fireworks. Maybe itís because the lights move so fast. Maybe itís because shooting these pictures require tricky exposure settings. In any case, I find shooting fireworks to be one of the most interesting types of photography. To help those who are new to this genre of photography, here are some good tips to follow.


    A spectacular display of fireworks

    Tip 1: Remove UV or Polarizing Filters
    This is always my first tip to photographers shooting fireworks. Remove the UV or polarizing filters from your camera before the fireworks display. I have, on many occasions, forgotten to do this and the results were often disastrous. By the time I got the lenses off, Iíd have missed several minutes of the fireworks display.

    Tip 2: Right Angles to the Wind
    Try to position yourself at right angles to the wind. Positioning yourself in this manner ensures that the light bursts in the fireworks streak across you as you snap pictures. This creates the interesting fireworks streaking effect you see in so many photos out there. The other advantage is that smoke will be blown out of your frame faster, giving rise to nicer, cleaner shots.

    Tip 3: Bring the Tripod
    Fireworks (and night photography in general) require long exposures. As such, always remember to bring your tripod along for the occasion. Ensure that you set up the tripod and try out some sample exposure settings way before those fireworks come on.

    Tip 4: Focusing
    As the fireworks display comes on, I think itís pretty important to focus on the first few bursts of fireworks. Taking the time to do this will ensure that you have nice, well-focused shots subsequently. Many amateurs tend to get excited once we see and hear the fireworks, and forget about focusing altogether.

    Tip 5: Background
    Another thing to look out for when photographing fireworks Ė check the background of the picture. Ensure that there are no city lights or moon in the background. The presence of these lights will diminish the impact of the fireworks display.

    Conclusion
    In summary, fireworks are a beautiful thing to photograph. However, they do present a special challenge in that the lights come out for only a short time. Moreover, the exposure settings can be tricky. If you keep practicing though, Iím sure that one day youíll become an expert at photographing fireworks.

  2. #2
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    My tip here is to put a tripod outside a fireworks event. No point in paying to go in - what you're really after is the air bursts. I suggest getting as close as possible under where the fireworks will be exploding. Check wind direction and strength for this. Then use a reasonably wide lens such as 50mm, locked down to f8 or therabouts and set on infinity. Then keep the shutter open for a few seconds at a time using the lowest possible ISO. I've got some super fireworks photos that way, using 35mm.

  3. #3
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    Yes Rhys, I agree. The best position to place the tripod is in a pretty high ground area that has a good view of the fireworks. It won't do much good if you're in the event itself. Hence, I usually scout around the area to find good vantage points before positioning and setting up the tripod.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gary_hendricks
    Yes Rhys, I agree. The best position to place the tripod is in a pretty high ground area that has a good view of the fireworks. It won't do much good if you're in the event itself. Hence, I usually scout around the area to find good vantage points before positioning and setting up the tripod.
    Oddly enough, my best fireworks photos came from the car park outside the football stadium in which the fireworks were being displayed. Ground displays are never worth photographing. Air bursts are far better.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhys
    Oddly enough, my best fireworks photos came from the car park outside the football stadium in which the fireworks were being displayed. Ground displays are never worth photographing. Air bursts are far better.
    Hey, thanks an idea. I'll be sure to check out the carpark as a vantage point in future. The last time I took fireworks was during the Singapore National Day celebrations, but I was perched on a building that was pretty far from the action.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Does anyone have any more general tips for shooting fireworks, like what general shutter speed to use.

  7. #7
    citrix Guest
    What exposure time and aperture do people usually use for fireworks?

    What are these numbers referring to? F8.0, F6.8, F5.6...etc.

    What's ISO?

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by citrix
    What exposure time and aperture do people usually use for fireworks?
    Quote Originally Posted by wall7760
    Does anyone have any more general tips for shooting fireworks, like what general shutter speed to use.
    Exposure time - or shutter speed should be Bulb if you have it. If not just time out how long it takes for one firework to be launched and explode and almost completely dissipate....this will be your shutter speed

    Quote Originally Posted by citrix
    What are these numbers referring to? F8.0, F6.8, F5.6...etc.
    These numbers are f/stops -- also knows as the aperture. It is the amount of light that is let into the camera, the higher the number the smaller the opening. The lower the number the larger the opening. Small f/numbers = less DOF high f/numbers = more DOF. DOF or Depth of Field = the amount of meters/feed before and after your subject will be in focus. If you are shooting fireworks you want an apterture to be f/8 or greater as Rhys Said

    Quote Originally Posted by citrix
    What's ISO?
    ISO is the digital film speed. The higher the ISO the faster the sesor captures light. Higher ISO's have more noise.

    Last edited by ktixx; 01-02-2006 at 09:42 AM.
    Canon dSLR User

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