Like summers past and many to come, there are many events and opportunities to photograph, one of those being Fireworks. We are fairly lucky in Vancouver to have great fireworks displays throughout the summer season to photograph. The secret to great photos of fireworks does not lie in one technique or setting, but rather a few simple settings and practices that when combined can make for excellent photographs.
- Mount your camera on a tripod – Whether you are using a small table top tripod or a full size tripod, stabilizing your camera will give you the ability to use longer shutter speeds and eliminate camera shake so you get crisp, clear photos.
- Set your camera to bulb – The B on your camera’s mode dial stands for Bulb. This allows the camera’s shutter to stay open for as long as you hold the shutter release down. With fireworks, the longer you hold down the shutter release, the longer the trails or streak of light will be. The less time will have the exact opposite effect; the streaks and trails of light will be shorter. Something to keep in mind is that the longer the shutter remains open, the more ambient light will bleed into the frame and light up any smoke left by the fireworks or cause a distracting light bleed in your photo from nearby light sources.
- Aperture – Your aperture size will change how long the shutter needs to be open for to capture the fireworks. I recommend setting your camera to F8. This will allow you to open the shutter for a long enough duration that you can capture the detail and trails of light the fireworks create. If you use a smaller or larger aperture, your shutter speed may be too long or too short to get a great photo of the action.
- Use a remote – When you press the shutter release button down on your camera, it can cause your camera to move or shake which can affect the overall clarity and quality of your photo. By using a remote, you remove the need to touch the camera to take the photo and eliminate the possibility of camera shake. Additionally, most remotes will allow you to lock the shutter in bulb mode so you do not need to hold the button for the entire duration of your photo! Remotes come in many forms and price ranges: wireless, wired, some have a timer and intervalometer for time lapse photography. Regardless, there will be a remote to fit your needs.
- Location –Having a good vantage point of the fireworks with minimal distractions or an interesting juxtaposition can help give your photos that extra edge. Make sure to get to your ideal location early to get the best possible spot for the evening!