Photograph Fireworks Tips
From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/josh-anon/ I am a big believer in pre-visualizing photos and then executing them. Even if your pre-visualization isn’t perfect, it gives you purpose and lets you actively plan for a shot instead of reacting to what’s around you. In this case, I knew that for the fourth of July, San Francisco would have a big fireworks show downtown, and the forecast was (unusually) fog-free. That meant I had a chance to create a unique image of San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge (the most distinctive icon that immediately screams “San Francisco” to a viewer) and fireworks. I knew of a good spot in the Marin headlands and arrived hours in advance, expecting a crowd and wanting a parking spot. A lot of photography involves patience! I framed this shot up before the fireworks started balancing where the bridge is and where I roughly estimated the fireworks would be, based on what I saw in the paper. To shoot, I put my camera in bulb mode, held a piece of cardboard in front of the lens between fireworks bursts, and exposed each image for 2-3 firework bursts. While the fireworks are a tad over-exposed, I still like the shot because of how the intense brightness and shapes from the falling embers contrasts with the darkness in the rest of the frame, just like when you see fireworks with your naked eye. Canon EOS 1Ds with Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L at 35mm on a tripod. f/5.6, 8 sec, ISO 200.
Being Creative with Light Trails
While it is strongly recommended to shoot fireworks using a tripod, there are some instances when it may not make too much difference. Such as on the case of a tripod on a boat! The classic curves normally found in fireworks are almost always shot from a static camera on tripod, but when the camera or photographer is moving, some interesting results can occur. Jagged streaks of light and unpredictable trails of light can also create some interesting images. Especially if you used a boat to get closer to the fireworks. With a little practice, you can begin to paint with light inside the camera!
A Trick for Shooting Fireworks
Yes, it may seem simple enough, all you have to remember to do is " take the lens cap off". But Wait, maybe you don′t want it to be so simple. Imagine what you can achieve if you′re willing to shake things up a bit. Try this: With your camera on a tripod and the shutter set to B for bulb, you can easily obtain multiple exposures of fireworks. First, hit the shutter. The shutter will open...but with a lens cap on, no light will enter the camera. Then, as you hear the dull thud of the launcher and see the streaking fuse heading to the heights, you can pretty well judge when a big burst will happen. So, just before that explosion of shape and color, and with that shutter still open (on bulb), remove the lens cap and capture just the climax of the pyrotechnic. Then, cover the lens and wait for the next launch, repeating the process until the entire field of the photo is filled. Obviously, some experimentation will be required, but you′ll have a blast with this one, cobbling together an unending variety of color, motion and dazling sparkles. And don′t forget that you have the option to point the camera at different areas of the sky. © 2007 Frank Siteman, Boston DPA Instructor
Metering for Fireworks
4th of July celebrations are always fun to photograph, especially the fireworks. But how do you take a meter reading of fireworks? They don’t hang around long enough. Although they look tricky, fireworks actually expose themselves. With your camera mounted on a tripod, set your ISO to 100 and your aperture at f5.6. All you have to do is keep your shutter open long enough to capture two to four fireworks bursts. You can use a bulb setting or set the shutter speed at five to ten seconds. The fireworks will take care of the rest. If you leave the shutter open too long, multiple bursts will stack up on top of each other, overexposing the shot. © 2007 Chuck Place, Los Angeles DPA Instructor This particular image was produced in St. Augustine, Florida. I used part of the old Castillo de San Marcos and some palm trees to give the image a sense of place. I metered the fort, which was lit with artificial light, picking an exposure of f5.6, to expose the fireworks, and a shutter speed of five seconds, to expose the fort properly. Each exposure gave me different groupings of fireworks with the same properly exposed fort in the foreground. I just picked the best group of explosions.