Happy 4th of July, from all of us at Home Movie Depot! Today, we’ll be discussing some tips to photographing all those glorious fireworks displays that will be taking place all across America tomorrow evening.
Although there can be quite a bit of guesswork involved, there are some methods behind the madness of photographing fireworks. It is quite difficult to take full frame shots of fireworks; it is best to try for shots that include the horizon, of a general view of the scene. Be sure to turn your autofocus off, or else your camera will be constantly trying to re-adjust its focus. Also, it’s best to change your camera’s settings to infinity rather than close-up, since your camera will be zooming in an out against a black sky.
The general rule is that your shutter speed should be set to bulb, at which setting the shutter simply stays open for as long as you hold down the button. How long you keep the shutter open depends on the type of film you are using. According to photographer Garry Black, is you are using a film of ISO of 100, your shutter speed should be set to either 8 or 11. A film with an ISO of 50 would need a shutter speed of 5.6 or 8. Also, be sure to start off with a full roll of film to avoid having to switch it out halfway through the fireworks display.
If you are trying to get a shot of people with fireworks behind them, keep in mind that the longer exposure times will make any movement on the ground blurry. To get the best of both worlds, it is best to use an editing program like Photoshop to put two pictures together. Simply take a picture of your loved ones before the display starts; since the night sky is black, it is easy to place images of the fireworks into a separate photograph.
Possibly the most important piece of equipment to bring with you this 4th of July is a tripod. With such long exposure times, it is of extreme importance that the camera remain steady. Another suggestion to ensure clear photos is to use a shutter remote, like they do at photo studios, so that you don’t have to even touch the camera. Depending on the length of exposures, you may be able to get away with using a monopod, although it could be difficult to position the camera to point upwards. A steady tripod, set up in advance of the display, is the safest bet.
Photographing fireworks is a tricky business; this is why you see so many appealing photographs in travel catalogues of the fireworks over Disneyland. It can take practice to figure out the right shutter speed and film to use, but if you follow the tips above, you may be well on your way to capturing tomorrow’s festivities. Who knows, maybe you’ll have realized your own technique in time for fireworks on New Years Eve!