It is almost the end of the year, I believe that some photographers are already started preparing for the New Year’s Eve fireworks show. If you are new to photographing the fireworks or looking for some tips and tricks, I have 7 tips here that I would like to share with you all. 🙂
1 – Using a tripod
Tripod is crucial here. You will be taking photos with Shutter Speed at least several seconds long and you’d want to avoid any handshake that can cause a blurry photo. Good news is that you don’t really need to go for a fancy and expensive tripod, just an average one will do, as long as it is steady enough. However, if your tripod is prone to shake, you can try putting some weight on your tripod by hanging something on your tripod’s weight hook (If your tripod has one), this helps provide additional stability. Another workaround is to avoid extending your tripod’s center column. Using the center column at its full height can give you a higher viewpoint but then it is often less stable and can be much shakier if the weather is windy.
2 – Using a remote shutter release
Even though your camera is steadily attached on a tripod, if you use your finger to press the shutter button, it still possible to cause a tiny amount of vibration that can affect your photo’s sharpness. So, it is advisable to use a Remote Shutter Release, wired or wireless. If you don’t have one, you can try using your camera’s self-timer function, just configured the self-timer to start with a 2 seconds delay will do. When the shutter button is pressed, the camera will wait for another 2 seconds before taking the photo. Since you aren’t touching the camera anymore when the photo is taken, there is no camera shake.
Furthermore, you can also setup continuous shots by changing the Number of shots to more than 1. (I’m using a Nikon D610, the max I can go is 9 shots) This is very handy especially when you want to take multiple frames of fireworks photos.
The self-timer setup screen on my Nikon D610
3 – Find a good location
There are several options you can look at to find the location for fireworks. The easiest way is to join the crowd together to enjoy the fireworks show. However, you will need to be at the location a few hours earlier so that you can get the best viewpoint, and also you may need to think a few precautions to avoid people getting into your frame or maybe accidentally kick your tripod if they are getting too close and excited when fireworks show started. You can try going with a larger group of friends or maybe putting your camera close to the edge of something so that people unable to go in front of you.
Another more preferable way is to rent a room with a good balcony view or a rooftop swimming pool, from a hotel or maybe services residence from Airbnb. The room’s price going to rise during the festival, but you can share the cost with a group of friends, as long as the place can fit. By doing so, not only you can avoid the crowd, you also secure your shooting slot in advance.
4 – Focus on the first few fireworks
Each time when a firework is fired, it generates smoke. After several rounds of fireworks blasted, there will be a noticeable amount of smokes in everywhere, which causes a “dirty” photo. Unless it is windy on that night, else the situation can get worst when the smoke became thicker and all over the place. This is why the first few round of fireworks are important.
The above photo showing that my main subject which is the Petronas Twin Tower is engulfed by the smokes that generated from fireworks.
5 – Using Manual Focus
Each time when the Shutter button is pressed, your camera will try to autofocus by itself, but the result can be inconsistent, especially when you are in a low light environment. You can still use the Auto Focus, but once you got the correct focusing, remember to switch your camera to Manual Focus, so your photos will always remain sharp regardless how many photos are taken.
If you want to do a Manual Focus, you have to first switch your camera focus to Manual Focus then you can use your camera’s Live View to do the focusing. The trick here is to use the magnifier button to zoom in and use the arrow buttons to move to the area that you want to focus on. After that, turn your focus ring until your subject sharpens. Then take a photo to review the focusing and repeat the previous steps to fine-tune if it is necessary.
6 – Try blending
Instead of taking a single photo with longer exposure to get multiple fireworks in the frame and having a risk to overexpose the photo, it would be much safer to take multiple photos of single fireworks and blend into one single photo later. If the photo is overexposed, you can quickly correct the camera setting and take another one.
On top of that, you can decide which fireworks combination that makes the most interesting composition by picking only the wanted fireworks to blend in.
Here is the video tutorial that I made previously on how to blend multiple fireworks into a single photo.
7 – Take the foreground photo separately
This is actually the same blending technique that mentioned in tips no.6, but this time is to take a photo of the foreground separately and before the fireworks show started. By doing so, not only you can use a longer shutter speed with lower ISO settings to have a much better image quality. At the same time, this allowed you to focus on only one thing at a time, foreground and fireworks. Take the foreground photo first, after that just focus on the fireworks without worrying the foreground is underexposure or overexposure.
That’s all about my tips. If you have other tips or tricks that would like to share out, feel free to leave me a comment here. I hope you guys able to get some stunning fireworks photo on the upcoming New Year’s Eve. 😀
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