At Falkon Digital we can’t wait for Halloween and Bonfire night as it is a good excuse to get the camera out! As bonfire night approaches many people will be enjoying fireworks displays, if you want the experience the event longer then taking a good photograph is the best way but it can be difficult getting the light and shutter speed right. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get great photos with a few photography tips, you’ll be surprised how amazing your results will be!
Once you have the right idea for the shots then you will be taking amazing photographs in no time.
Here are our top ten tips for getting that perfect photo this bonfire night.
Top 10 Fireworks Photography Tips
Use a Tripod
This is the most important tip for getting a good shot, since you will be using a longer shutter speed in the dark lighting conditions the last thing you want is blurry and wobbly images. Make sure you use a tripod or secure your camera on something so you can keep your camera as still as possible and get the shot right, capturing the fireworks display in their full glory.
Don’t use an automatic setting
If you are new to using an SLR camera then it can be very tempting to use the automatic settings. In everyday situations, a good SLR will give good pictures using the auto settings but even then you are only using a fraction of the camera’s potential. However, if you are shooting fireworks or low-level light conditions then never use auto, no matter how tempting. You will not get very good results and keeping it on auto will mean you will be limited as a photographer.
In most situations, I prefer to use the manual mode on my DSLR or SLR and I also set the focus to manual as well, if you use autofocus on low light conditions, such as photographing fireworks, then you may miss a lot of shots as the camera will struggle to find the focus point. Once you have got your position right and the focus then you probably won’t need to change it throughout the fireworks display, just click away and enjoy the show!
Don’t use a Flash
The very nature of photography is capturing light, but when you have a dark scene or low light levels it can be tempting to use a flash. However, as fireworks are set off in the dark you may be confused into thinking you need a flash. By using a flash your camera may default to a shorter exposure time which you don’t want in this situation, and in most cases, a flash will only reach a few metres ahead so highlighting smoke or people in front of you, not the actual fireworks. The flashes of light that are the fireworks will be enough light if on a long exposure and shutter speed and the impact of the lights of the fireworks on the dark night sky can make amazing photos.
You may be limited with your focal length depending on what lenses you have but if you are a beginner I would keep to a wide angle, it can be difficult to make sure you have your camera on the right area of the sky when the fireworks go off so getting a larger area should guarantee you get a good shot. If you have a good zoom on the lens then you may want to zoom in and get a few tighter shots as the display goes on, this can give great results as a shot that is filled with colourful fireworks can look amazing. However, a nicely framed shot with a wide focal length can look just as good if you get the composition right and with a good DSLR you can always crop the image in editing.
When you are shooting fireworks you may think because it is dark and you will be using a slow shutter speed then naturally you will need a fast aperture, and in most situations, this would be correct. However, fireworks are actually very bright and give off a lot of light so a more mid to small range aperture works really well. I tend to keep mine between f/8 to f/16 to get the best photos.
I have already mentioned shutter speed a few times and that is because when shooting at night it is very important to get this aspect of your setting right. If your shutter speed is too fast you won’t be able to capture the movement of the fireworks so for the best results you should set it to a long exposure time. I always experiment with shutter speeds, using the set shutter speeds, but don’t get complacent, just because it is a low light condition doesn’t mean the fireworks aren’t bright and you could end up overexposing the image. If you are using a DSLR then have a few tries with some of the earlier displays so you know you have it right for the main event.
The ISO relates to the sensitivity of the light sensor in DSLR cameras, if you have the ISO on too high it will create a noisier shot, however, is well suited to fast subjects like cars and bikes. you would think that a fast firework would need a high ISO but this is not the case as you have a long exposure and fireworks look best with a nice clean shot I prefer to use the ISO setting of around 100. This is personal preference and can depend on your camera so if you have a DSLR then it may be worth playing around on the night. I know many in the SEO Creative office would rather use a higher ISO, for example on our Canon 7D you can get away with 600 without getting noise.
Frame the shot
Getting the right composition for your shot will be the difference between a good shot and a great shot. Check out where you will be taking the photos from as soon as you can get in and set up. Look for interesting lines and points on the horizon and remember the best compositions can be split up into thirds.
You can shoot portrait or landscape and while most people will go for landscape shots on fireworks you may be able to get some really stunning pictures vertically so stay open-minded. When I shoot fireworks I don’t always look through the viewfinder but watch the sky, once everything is set up I like to enjoy the fireworks and watch for when the unexploded rockets are going up then you can anticipate the shot a lot better.
Use a remote release
Not every camera has a remote release but if you do then this is the time to use it. As mentioned in ‘Frame the shot’ sometimes it is better to watch the sky to get a good idea of when the rockets and fireworks will go off, if you do this then using a remote release can enable you to take the shot easily. The other benefit is you won’t have to touch the camera to take the shot meaning there is less chance of you knocking it and affecting the shot.
Experiment and have a play
At the end of the day photography is fun so if you don’t get great results straight away, don’t be put off, have fun and play around with different settings and chances are by the end of the night you will get a few good shots. You may want to try a few shots of the kids with sparklers as well!