- Taking photos of fireworks may seem like a simple task, but it is something that requires a lot of preparation and technicalities that we should take into account.
- We will try to give you the best advice so that you can achieve high-quality photography in any kind of event.
We are always taking photos of different moments that will be immortalized forever, especially when it comes to important dates like Christmas or New Year. In these events it is normal that we enjoy many fireworks, which invade the sky and fascinate the vision of their spectators. Can they be immortalized? how should we take pictures of fireworks? We will analyze it a little further down and no, it is not something simple.
How to achieve good photos of fireworks?
Although the flashes and explosions of fireworks can be very impressive, as far as the photographic subject is concerned, it is somewhat boring. Isolated, they can look like something passed through an image editing program. But the best fireworks photographs always have something extra, something going on around them. From people, landscapes, a huge city; but we will always find an extra that improves the final image.
When fireworks are launched, they are staged for an amazing show. This means that they are launched individually or in bursts, one after the other. The problem is that it is somewhat rare for the sky to light up completely. We know that while we are appreciating them they look great.
The problem is that in the photographs it is not the same, a single firework seems somewhat boring, monotonous, even anticlimactic. The vast majority of photographs of fireworks are actually long exposure images, which were taken by all the fireworks that exploded during a period of 10, 20 or more seconds.
Technicalities to consider to take good photos of fireworks
When we are going to capture a photograph, we are going to have two options, one of these is bad and the other is better. The first and worst would be to take the camera and try to measure the time to capture all the fireworks as they explode. Something that, obviously, has its risks and the result, well, it would not be the best.
Instead, the second is to mount the camera on a tripod and use a long exposure time so that the fireworks explode at some point in the camera, this is what we talked about earlier.
So the first thing will be to arrive well before the exhibition begins. We will set up the tripod and frame the area where we think the fireworks will be. Obviously, it is feasible that later we will have to adjust some other thing. Ideally, however, you want to have what you can ready before the show starts.
The lens we use will depend on the distance we are from the screen. Using Zoom will give us the flexibility to adapt to any scenario. Although, generally, we should not be too far away to use a long telephoto lens. The most important thing is to use manual focus.
As for the aperture, it is less important than the shutter speed. We would have to stand too far from the screen for depth of field to end up being important. The aperture should be between f/8 and f/16, it will depend on the ambient light. In case we are over a city, f/16 will be better; if we are in a field or forest, f/8 would be ideal.
Last tips to take a good photograph
Considering the fireworks are too bright and since we’re using a tripod, the ISO isn’t something we should be losing sleep over. We’ll set it to 100 and that’s it. The exposure will be adjusted with the shutter speed.
There is no shutter speed that captures fireworks. Whether we have the shutter for 10 seconds or 30 seconds open. What really matters is the half second during which the fireworks are at their brightest.
What makes the difference here is that, with the shutter at 30 seconds, we will be able to capture approximately six bursts of fireworks, instead of a couple. This will also give the background more time to expose.
So we’ll start with a shutter speed of about 10 seconds and do some testing. In case the photos appear overexposed, then we will adjust the aperture or reduce the exposure time to five seconds. If they are underexposed, it is possible to open the aperture or directly choose 20 second exposures. Obviously, the only way to find what will work here is to try, make mistakes, and try again.
Finally, it is important to be prepared to adjust the shutter speed and aperture in the middle of the event. As the exhibition progresses, it is possible to find bigger explosions and calmer moments. It can happen that the shutter speed, which initially gave us an excellent exposure, ends up overexposing.