The Fourth of July always comes with some of the best fireworks displays. Each year, the shows become more enigmatic and charismatic. Add in the New Year’s Eve and Halloween displays, and the celebrations take new heights. The loud bangs are captured on video, and the bright flashes reverberate on pictorial backgrounds and make beautiful backdrops. But the real challenge is in taking actual photographs of the fireworks that come out looking like professional work.
Keep reading to learn how to photograph fireworks like a pro all on your own. In real life, fireworks are amazing to watch. They really illuminate the sky and bring so much brightness and happiness. The sparkle in the eyes of anyone watching fireworks in real life is hard to beat. That said, totally isolated, on their own, fireworks are a pretty boring subject to dedicate a photoshoot to. When it all comes down to the raw facts, the best pictures of fireworks are those with something else in the frame.
Be it the urban landscape or people in the background or the open sea with some white beach sand or something else, the added element in a fireworks picture brings the lights to life. The key to mastering how to photograph fireworks is to first understand the mechanism behind a fireworks display.
Pyrotechnicians assemble fireworks and light them either individually or in small bursts one after the other. For anyone watching in real life, this makes the most sense and creates an aesthetically pleasing image. It would be daft and boring if the sky were to light up all at once and then show nothing. For photographers, this is the aspect that brings the stress of capturing the best fireworks pictures in high resolution. If the sky were to be filled all at once, this would allow for the most amazing pictures because there would be a lovely display of numerous colors all against the starry darkness of the night.
To counter the system used by pyrotechnicians for real-time watchers of fireworks, professional photographers engage in long exposure images. Long exposure images are those that capture all the fireworks that go off over 10 seconds, 20 seconds and longer.
Understanding Fireworks Photography from a Technical Viewpoint
For one to capture a real-time fireworks display across the sky, there are two possible options. This is technical, but for you to understand it, just like other topics of interest, we will present you with the simplified terms. You can:
- Use a simple, easy method which is to hand-hold your camera and try to capture the fireworks as they go off. That is before they fully reach the sky and burst in a display of color. Most people prefer this method, although it’s not really going to capture the best pictures for you.
- Get yourself a tripod. Put your camera on the tripod and adjust the exposure timer so that the fireworks will burst at some point during the set time.
The second method is your key to how to take amazing fireworks photos. You will have to arrive at the scene of the fireworks show earlier than the scheduled showtime. Find the best spot to position yourself and set up the tripod so that you can watch the fireworks go off and also capture them on your camera. You can even practice your long exposure images by capturing nature and the other participants before the fireworks go off. There might be a need to adjust the tripod and even your selected position to get the best angle and position for the pictures of fireworks in the sky.
Setting Up Your Camera After Setting Up the Tripod
With the tripod standing in the right angle, you will need to adjust the camera for both gadgets to be in sync. Depending on the type of camera that you will be using to snap fireworks pictures, you might need to also check and adjust a couple of items.
The depth of field matters the most when it comes to pictures of fireworks that have high resolution. You need to do minimal to no edits when sharing your pictures. To achieve the depth of field, adjust your aperture and set it between f/8 and f/16 checking against the ambient light. If the fireworks display is against a dark background, for example, the woods or sea, set the aperture to f/8. If it’s over the city lights, set it to f/16.
To maintain your high resolution, try using minimal focus. It would be best to select a camera with a zoom lens. That way there is no need for unnecessary movements: you can either zoom in or out. The distance should allow your zoom focal length to be between 18mm and 70mm.
You can set the ISO to a steady 100 and leave it there. If exposure needs adjusting, do it using the shutter speed. Set the shutter to open for over 25 seconds to enable the camera to capture up to six firework bursts at that moment. When the fireworks flash brightly, the shutter speed will capture the image at that moment, and it will be in high resolution, the background being more exposed as well.
These are just the basic tips on how to photograph fireworks and get amazing results. The rest depends on you, your positioning, the shutter speed of your camera, your zoom lens, and the camera aperture. Arm yourself with the basics and remember, practice makes perfect. If you missed the recent Fourth of July fireworks displays, then start practicing for Halloween now. By then, you might be able to capture some okay photos. By New Year’s Eve, you will come out with some of the best fireworks pictures.