Are you planning to photograph the Berkhamsted fireworks this bonfire night? Want to know how to set your camera up to get great photos of the fireworks?
Before You Go Out
Photographing fireworks is a great way of practicing using the various buttons and settings on your camera. Some advance planning is necessary to make sure you have all the kit you need ready.
Things You Will Need
A tripod is pretty much essential when photographing fireworks with your camera. Alternatively you will need to find a very steady place for your camera. Because photographing fireworks involves a long exposure it’s really important that your camera doesn’t move.
Another bit of kit you might find useful is a remote release. This avoids the risk of you moving the camera (even slightly) as you take the photo. Remote releases cost just over £5, such as this one which fits most Canon cameras. This is the equivalent for Nikon cameras.
There is an alternative to a remote release cable. Most cameras give you the option to select a delay before the shutter operates. This means the image is taken a few seconds after you press the shutter.
If you have a choice of lens, you probably want to use a wide angle zoom. Until the display gets started you don’t always know where the fireworks are going to be. If you start with a wide angle zoom set at its widest focal length, you can then crop your images either in camera during the display, or when your process your photos. Some common compositions with fireworks are to shoot wide, so you capture the crowd and the wider scene, or to crop tight around the fireworks once you know where they are going to be.
Setting Your Camera Up
When setting your camera up for fireworks, you might want to dial in the settings before you head out in the dark. You will need to be in manual mode. More advanced photographers might want to use bulb mode, you will definitely need a remote release for this).
As a starting point set your ISO to 200, aperture to f11 and shutter speed to 2 seconds. You are looking for photos where the sky is nice and dark, and fireworks which aren’t overexposed.
Find out if your camera has an option to light up the buttons when you’re outside in the dark. If not you may want to take a head torch, or the torch on your phone can be very useful too.
Taking Firework Photographs
When you get to the firework display, you will want to think about where to stand. The distance you want to be from the fireworks will vary depending on the display, your lens and how much you want to include in the image. You want to stand somewhere so that you don’t get obstructions, such as power cables, buildings or other light sources in the way of your photo.
One challenge with taking photos of fireworks is how to focus your camera. The simplest way to overcome this is to move your mens to manual focus. You can then focus your lens to infinity (this should be marked on your lens. You are most likely going to be far enough away from the camera that you can set the focus to infinity and just leave it there.
It is easy to underexpose or overexpose your firework photos. If your fireworks look too bright try altering your settings to achieve a darker sky and crisper fireworks. It’s probably worth adjusting your shutter speed to start with until you get the look you want. You probably want to take a could of photos and then check them, then you can quickly make any adjustments before the display finishes.
More Advanced Photographs
For more advanced photographers, you can capture a series of fireworks in a single image. For this you want to keep your shutter open for a long time, you may want to use bulb mode for this. You then place a piece of black card over the lens between fireworks, to prevent light entering the camera and overexposing the image. You can also use a gloved hand for this, but be very careful not to knock the camera. Your shutter may be open for 20 or 30 seconds, but the camera is only capturing the fireworks when you remove the cover from the lens.
Post Processing Firework Photographs
Some small tweaks to your photos after you have taken them can help to make them really stand out. You can experiment with the composition, perhaps seeing whether cutting out any unused space draws attention to the fireworks, or perhaps leaving it there providers a sense of place. You may want to experiment with making the sky darker (by increasing the contrast), or making the fireworks more vivid (by increasing the saturation).
Want to know where to practice? Here are some of the local fireworks displays (all Saturday 3rd November):
Photography Lessons Berkhamsted
Want to learn more about how to use your camera? Then visit our website to learn more about our photography courses for beginners in Berkhamsted.