New Year’s Eve is fast approaching and it’s a great time to get some colourful fireworks photos! Here’s our quick guide to fireworks photography.
Key things you will need to consider are the location, your gear and what settings you’ll need on your camera to ensure you are ready to capture amazing fireworks photos!
New Year’s Eve is often a busy time so it helps to get in position - with a great view of the area where the fireworks will be - well in advance. It’s generally easy to see where the fireworks will be launched from, so keep an eye out for this.
As for your exact location - you want to be close to the fireworks but not too close so that they end up above you. So take a look around the area, look for somewhere you will be comfortable and think about which elements you’d like (or not like) in your frame eg. buildings, trees or a bridge.
Another important thing to bear in mind is the direction of the wind. Fireworks create a lot of smoke so make sure you’re not downwind of where they will be in the sky. This will help ensure you get a nice clean shot.
Of course you will need a camera (a DSLR or mirrorless camera will do the trick) so you can attach a wide angle lens. (Alternatively, a bridge camera with a wide angle lens and the ability to control your settings will work too.) A lens in the range of 16-35mm (or similar) would be great as a starting point. If you’re a little further away from the action a mid-range lens such as a 24-105mm could be handy too.
Another essential item is a sturdy tripod, as you’ll be needing this for long exposures.
A cable release is also really handy if you have one, as this will limit the risk of camera shake from your pressing the shutter button. Alternatively, you can set up a 2 second timer delay on your camera which will do a similar job to the cable release.
Don’t forget to empty your memory card in advance – there’s nothing worse than deleting images while on location and potentially missing a shot!
Finally, make sure your batteries are charged in advance so you can snap away all evening without any worries.
FIREWORKS TOP TIPS
Once you’ve found an ideal spot and got your camera and tripod out, it’s time to think about your composition. Tip: Think about this in advance so you’re prepared when the show starts, and not fumbling around with your lens or tripod and potentially missing out on shots!
When choosing a spot, be close to the action but not too close – if you end up too close the fireworks will be above you, rather than nicely framed between some buildings or trees etc.
When you’re ready to think about your composition, hold up your camera and check out your surroundings while looking through your camera. Once you find a composition you like, set up your tripod – this will be easier than trying to get an ideal composition while your camera is on your tripod.
For an interesting composition, consider framing the fireworks between buildings, trees, a bridge or monument. While images of a black sky with fireworks are beautiful and colourful, it can be more striking and distinctive to frame the fireworks between buildings on the city skyline.
Now you’re all set up with your camera and tripod, it’s time to get your settings ready!
Start off in TV / S (shutter priority) mode and choose a slow shutter speed – start at perhaps 2 whole seconds (2”) and go from there. Be sure to choose a low ISO setting (eg. 100) and, if your camera has long exposure noise reduction, be sure to use this to help cut down noise.
Once your camera is set, it’s time to lock your focus. With your lens on autofocus, focus on a point within the frame such as a building. Once your lens has focused on this point, flick the focus switch on the side of your lens from auto to manual, without changing the focus of your lens. Using this method will mean that the lens is ‘locked’ on your autofocus point, meaning that when the fireworks are happening your lens won’t be wasting time hunting for an autofocus point. Don’t worry if you bump your lens mid-shoot; just repeat the process to ‘lock’ the focus point and you’ll be set to go again.
Those are our top tips for fireworks photography! Don’t be afraid to experiment with your shutter speed and composition. Have fun and be sure to share your fireworks images with us on social media.
From all of us at CameraPro, we hope everyone has a fantastic festive season and new year!