Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fireworks | How I Capture Them

With the 4th of July just two days away, I thought I might share how I capture the beautiful, bursting, sparkling, lights. It's not hard, though I thought it would be, and there really are no rules! Have fun! That's what fireworks are all about, right?!?

None of these pictures are edited. You can see them completely as I took them... I also will be posting some of my bad, blurry pictures, because everyone takes a bad photo sometimes, but there is always a reason. And I will tell you my mistakes.
I haven't been photographing fireworks for very long, but here are just a few things that I've learned!

I think the hardest thing is trying to find a good spot to set up. You'll want to make sure there aren't any street lights or anything to interfere with the light of the fireworks. It's a lot of light to handle! I know you can't change where the fireworks are, but sometimes changing your stand point can help a lot.
Because an awkward, yellow, glow in the corner of a photo isn't very conducive to a dramatic, exciting firework.

 Definitely a bad photo.  See how the light in the corner just made it worse? But that's not the only thing. My settings weren't right ( we'll talk about that next) and the moon kinda threw me off, too. I can't change that, though.

This is probably the most important part. There are so many parts that contribute to a good photo, and I recommend going completely manual. Scary! I know. It was for me, too. But you'll love yourself for it.

Shutter Speed
In the picture above my shutter was way to slow. It was at a 1/80 so it looks really streaky.
In the picture below my shutter is faster, so a little better. I suggest you keep your shutter speed around 1/100 or higher. Just remember, the faster the shutter speed, the lesser the light.

ISOBut it also looks a little grainy. Which sometimes is just how it is. But the reason is because my ISO is pretty high. The ISO is the sensitivity your camera has to light. The higher the number the harder your camera works for light, which is nice in dark situations, but you still get "noise" or grain. In this picture it is at 6400, the highest my camera will go. I recommend you keep it a little lower. Probably around 1600 or 3200.  

Aperture controls the area in focus. A smaller number makes the background more blurred and also lets in more light. This helps a lot with the light, but won't matter to much for background in this case because it's only darkness. (Now I'm singing Batman's song...)
Just keep it around 5.6 or lower.

Just remember I didn't edit any of these. I always like to lighten my firework photos when I edit them. But I know I really did keep my ISO too high. Oh, well.

Keep it Steady
I used to pretty much hate tripods. They were a bit of a nuisance. But they really, truly are important! I didn't use one on any of the pics above. Therefore, a bit blurred. If you don't have a tripod on hand just any steady service will help.
The pics below are from last year. I used a tripod. It helps.

This is the best. It's really fun and the result is so cool. You'll always want to keep your camera on manual focus when photographing fireworks or sparklers, but especially when taking bokeh shots.

 This ones my fave...

I can't wait to do more firework photography! It will be so much fun! I hope you enjoyed these tips!
Good Luck!