Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Excellent Fireworks Photography Tips

Excellent Fireworks Photography Tips

(Presented by Great-Photography-Tips.com)

Fireworks photography is a favorite for both beginners and advanced photographers using DSLR cameras. The appeal of the night sky adorned with blazing light, sparking out in breathtaking designs – is enough to get even the most hesitant photographer reaching for their equipment in excitement. And with the 4th of July (as well as Canada Day) less than a month away, you may want to be prepared.


Exquisite timing by photographer William McIntosh

To improve your fireworks photos so that they really pop, check out this great list of fireworks photography tips – for sharper, brighter and more striking landscape photos.

Tip #1: Planning Ahead For Success

For excellent fireworks photography you will need to know a few basic things. The first is your position, or distance from the fireworks display. Distance will affect your DSLR camera settings, and the way you frame your images. You’ll want to find a spot that is not only fairly level for your tripod, but that encompasses the surrounding scenery for easy framing and composition.

Keep in mind that the weather also plays a large part in the photos you’ll be taking. Too much wind blowing in your direction, means that smoke will fog up your images, and they’ll come out hazy and unclear. Fireworks photography is about planning ahead. These displays are usually held on holidays, and a lot of people show up to watch. Be sure to get there first so that you can choose the most ideal spot for the best photos possible.

Tip #2: Proper Set Up For Clear Shots

The most important fireworks photography tip, is knowing your DSLR camera’s capabilities. If you feel your lens for example, is not going to make the grade – then hire one for the event. The last thing you want is to realize at the last minute that your zoom lens can’t cope with the distance between you and the fireworks. Here are some suggestions on how to set up your DLSR camera.

Your Tripod – Even professional photographers will admit that photos don’t come out nearly as well if they leave their tripod at home. Your goal is to keep your camera level and steady – so that it can shoot at maximum efficiency. If there are people all around you, carve out your section and keep it clear. A cable release is also a good idea, but practice with it beforehand, or you may end up missing the best parts of the show.

Aperture Setting – It might be night time when you shoot, but you only need a small aperture to capture that amount of light. A narrow aperture is best, but keep your distance in mind, and your flash off. Don’t exceed f/16 or your camera will automatically diffuse the light and you won’t get clear, sharp lines when the fireworks go off. For fireworks photography an aperture of f/8 and above will do.

Shutter Speed – Fireworks photography can be difficult because of timing, and the speed at which the fireworks are launched and explode. But this doesn’t mean you need to shoot in burst mode, quite the opposite. Long exposures (3-10 seconds) will help you capture the movement and light streaks in the sky. For quick sharp shots, burst mode will do, with a high shutter speed.

Light Sensitivity – Set your DSLR camera’s ISO low, so that you don’t get overexposure or additional noise in your shots. There is plenty of light up there in the sky, so ISO 100 or less is optimal. To reduce noise even more, check to see if your camera has a noise reduction option, if it does – turn it on.

Tip #3: Framing and Composition

As a fireworks photographer, it’s your job to capture the most breathtaking scenes as they happen. This means brushing up on your composition and framing. You should be prepared to move around after a while for new perspectives as well. First, use a wide depth of field, and focus manually with your lens. Once you have the general focus in place, you can tweak it as the show progresses.


Incredible framing and composition by photographer Altus

Water – Fireworks photography is most striking above water. If there’s water in your scene you can frame some great shots of the reflections below.

Buildings – Use the cityscape, or landscape around your fireworks display to set the mood for your image. Your goal is to give your image depth, context and a focal point that doesn’t include the fireworks themselves.

People – Crowds can add even more emotion to a fireworks display. Luminous bursts of light that are cast on the landscape below - always makes for an interesting photo.

Tip #4: Using The Right Lens

You will need a wide angle lens for fireworks photography. This is because a shorter lens will almost certainly cut out most of the show – and you want the whole picture when you’re shooting. Ideally a 20-35mm lens will work well, and will help you fill your frame with bright colors and stirring compositions.

If you’re a compulsive photo reviewer, then you’ll need to repress these urges at the event. Firework displays end before they begin, and you need to be prepared and shooting the whole time. Don’t be afraid to test your skills by adjusting your settings yourself – sometimes that produces the most interesting photos of all. Fireworks photography is exhilarating, so get these basics right and you’ll produce some excellent photos on the night.

To learn more tips and tricks, visit our site at www.Great-Photography-Tips.com.

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