Getting the Oohs and Ahhs into photographing fireworks

By | 1st November 2016

A good fireworks photo can have you ooh-ing and ahh-ing long after the event. A dark sky lit up with colours zooming off in all directions heralding the start of something new, a celebration of a festival or here in the UK, if you look at it factually, a historical attempt to blow up parliament!

Moving swiftly on from that, fireworks are a really hard subject to photograph. If you’re confident with your camera and have a tripod, we do have a few tips for you from this article about how to get the best pictures. We also have a few tips for beginners with their DSLRs as well.

Here’s a confession though – despite having all the kit and loving my DSLR camera, if I want to take good fireworks photos without a whole load of preparation, I use my Panasonic Bridge camera and the brilliant ‘fireworks’ setting as it does it all for me!

If you’re just having a small display at home, it’s going to be even harder to get good pictures – remember the light of the firework will light up what’s behind it…

The speed of the Catherine wheel going round lit up what was left of our nasturtiums here. Using a longer exposure meant you could appreciate the movement and the sparks flying in all directions, so it was a compromise.

As with all fireworks, your first priority has to be safety – for yourself, those around you and your kit.

If you’re going to an organised display, which I strongly recommend if you want proper ‘light up the whole sky’ images, it is well worth going to investigate a good vantage point whilst it’s still light. You need somewhere you can will get a good view, without being jostled. If you can get to a higher point, so you can watch the fireworks over the rest of the crowd, you will get much better pictures.

Although most displays will have the ‘big finish’, try photographing each firework as it will enable you to improve your shots as you go – hopefully having everything just as you want it as the massive ones go off.

Having that extra time will also give you the opportunity to play experimenting with your camera. It is worth:

  • Zooming in on the trails,
  • Experimenting with exposure time,
  • Adding people into the firegrand, and background to create added interest and details to the picture,
  • Deliberately creating blurr with your exposure for the fireworks to give atmosphere.

All of this will have the added bonus of distracting you from having cold feet!

These are simply stunning photos. So just take your time, and you can be creating similar too. Most importantly, have a play – digital equipment means that you really can keep trying until it works.

Follow us on Facebook for more ideas and fun competitions, or just to have somewhere to share your masterpieces – we really love to see what you are creating.

This is another guest post from Jenny. Jenny Smith has been taking photographs for as long as she can remember and now specialises in taking pictures of the natural world, especially animals. Her photo of a hippo was awarded ‘Highly Commended’ in the ZSL Photography Competition in 2014 and was displayed in installations at both London and Whipsnade Zoos. She was shortlisted again in 2015 and has been shortlisted in two categories in 2016. When not out with her camera, she runs her own business DigitalJen (www.digitaljen.co.uk) providing commercial, creative and digital business services for small businesses – which can include the odd product shoot now and again.

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