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How To Photograph Fireworks With Dazzling Results

How to Photograph Fireworks with Dazzling Results

By: Gemma Baines

Fireworks add a touch of elegance, sparkle and color to the years most symbolic celebrations, and budding photography aficionados want to make sure they capture the moment to perfection. Taking knockout shots is a skill that takes many years to master; without a doubt, trial and error will go a long way towards refining your technique and enlightening you on the angles, speeds and focal lengths that work best for you. In this post, we provide a few tips to ensure your photographs are up to scratch:

  1. Choose the Right Fireworks: If the display of lights will be taking place at home, determine the type of fireworks that will work best for the photos you wish to take. To start off with, you can’t go wrong with high shooters – Mess’s Fireworks have a wide array of fireworks that aim high. Check out some of the exciting videos on the site. The 500 Gram Professional Rack category will give you a good idea of the type of effects you can look forward to, and can help you calculate the length of time the firework will last, so you can plan your strategy accordingly. These fireworks go up approximately 250-300 feet in the air, and are characterized by their vivid color and excellent break.

Rockets and missiles also create uniquely dazzling effects, which can include yellow, gold, green and blue stars, and gorgeous silver glitter. Sky Lanterns, inspired on Asian Khoom Fay, are also very popular for photographers and light display fans alike. They can add a spiritual, mysterious touch to your photographs.

Ultimately, it is important to take the time to research the different types of fireworks to select the effects and colors that most suit the ambiance you wish your photos to express. Fireworks don’t have to fly high to make for spectacular shots; Fountains, Ground Spinners and Wheels make for excellent ground level shots. If safety is a concern, prepare your backyard or light display area well, removing any items that could possibly catch fire and ensuring you have the basic home coverage to guard against any possible accidents. All Mess’s Fireworks meet strict safety standards, so ultimately, your artistic preference should determine your choice of firework.

  1. Use a Tripod: To avoid blurry, undefined shots, use a tripod and, if possible, invest in a remote release device, so you don’t have to touch your camera. This way, you can keep movement to a minimum. Don’t rely on a self-timer: many fireworks are impossible to time and you want to have full control over the exact moment your shots are taken.
  2. Find the Right Location: Fireworks displayed against a dark sky are beautiful, but if all your shots have nothing else but a black background, the viewing experience can be boring. Some of the most beautiful fireworks shots include silhouettes of people, iconic buildings or natural features. Make sure your view is not obstructed by an unsightly structure or building. When setting up your tripod, make sure the horizon is straight. It is always a good idea to purchase a few extra fireworks so you can practice shooting from different locations.
  3. Remember where your camera is aimed: Photographers who regularly shoot fireworks will tell you that they often spend more time looking at the sky directly rather than at the camera display. When using your remote release device, therefore, remember where your camera is aimed and keep your eye on that part of the sky.
  4. Set the camera to a low ISO (around 200) and to an aperture of approximately f/11. Fireworks are full of light and also fast moving; this will ensure your shots are nice and clear. Do not use a flash; remember that fireworks are light sources themselves.
  5. Choose the right shutter speed: Long exposures are necessary, owing to the ultra-fast movement of fireworks. Shoot in ‘bulb mode’, which will permit you to keep your shutter open for as long as you hold it down. A good idea is to press the shutter when the fireworks starts and to hold it down until the explosion is over.
  6. Do not use auto focus. It is best to use manual focus and to set it on infinity. If you rely on auto focus, your camera may take too long to ‘hunt’ the point of focus. 

By following these steps, putting in a little forethought and practice time there is no reason why you can't become a pro and eventually come out with spectacular fireworks images. Just remember to keep an open mind and have fun!

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