- The ground rule is to use long exposure to get the feel of movement and streaks of light. The exposure time depends on the brightness of the fireworks. You need to try possible variations of exposure by trial and error method. The cameras exposure meter may not be of any use while shooting long exposures.
- A solid tripod or other good camera support is mandatory while trying long exposures. If you do not have a tripod, try keeping the camera on a solid base. A sand bag (a cloth bag filled with sand) is an ideal choice to hold the camera in position for a good composition.
- Use manual exposure and small aperture (f/11 or f/16) selections. Choice of low ISO (ISO 100) would be ideal for getting a slow shutter speed.
- Long exposure up to 30 full seconds can be set in the camera. If you need to shoot longer than 30 seconds, choice of ‘Bulb’ shutter is fine. A very long exposure (up to five minutes or more) can also be tried to get multiple fireworks in the same shot. You can use the stop watch of your mobile phone for checking the exposure time.
- Use ‘mirror-up’ option to hold the reflex mirror of the DSLR camera up before the start of the exposure. Otherwise the mirror vibration will produce undesirable blur in the photo.
- A remote shutter release comes as a handy tool to start the exposure without touching the camera. You can also try ‘self-timer 2secs’ if you do not have a remote shutter release.
- Identify the zone in the sky where maximum number of fireworks is happening and compose a fairly wide frame. You can even include some buildings or landscape to make the shot interesting.
- Manual focus set at ‘infinity, will be better. Remember, Auto Focus is difficult because of low light and less contrast. You can also keep the flash light of your mobile phone ready for handling the camera in darkness.
- If you are shooting in JPEG format, choice of ‘landscape’ picture style and ‘shade’ white balance will give vibrant yellows in the fireworks.
- Fireworks scenes during the twilight time is ideal for recording colorful sky details.
- Try a lot of shots to get few good and interesting.
- Note: The same tips can be followed for shooting ‘lightning’
Author: KL Raja Ponsing – founder, Ambitions 4 Photography Academy, Chennai
YouTube Channel: KLR the photo guru