How Do You Take Digital Pictures Of Fireworks?
by Mike Singh
Shooting fireworks on July 4th with a digital camera is difficult, yet most photographers find it is the most exciting shoots they have ever done, in addition to Halloween and Christmas. One major explanation is the fact that normal film cameras are not sensitive to the infrared, while digital cameras are. When sensitive to infrared light - there is over exposure of the CCD.
To avoid some problems, most photographers will agree there are only two fundamental requirements that will make or break shooting the firework scene - time exposure and a solid platform for the camera. A one-second to four-second time exposure should be sufficient, if using ISO 100 or faster film.
Some key points in preparing for a fireworks shoot will allow the photographs to be taken without rushing or setting up in a hurry. When you arrive a little early, check out the location where the fireworks will be set off, trying to avoid obstructions (trees or tree branches) and weather elements, such as lots of wind that blows smoke. Stay completely away from streetlights or even city lights, as they may cause lens flare in the shots.
On flat grounds, getting the tripod set up in a good position takes some time, as finding the right angle and direction in which the fireworks will streak through the sky is important. To further eliminate the possibility of shaking the camera you should use a cable release. This will allow you to release the shutter without touching the camera. This is very important, as we need long exposures to get the best light effect.
Remember to put the camera on landscape mode, or the icon that looks like a mountain range. And if the camera is equipped, set it to fireworks mode. And be careful about the exposure, as short exposures will not capture the exploding fireworks properly, while long exposures will produce a blurry effect. Try to open the shutter when the fireworks explode in the sky, and close it when they peak - usually from one to four seconds.
Some small things to keep in the back of the mind is the precaution of carrying a flashlight. Remember, it's going to be dark, and you will not find sufficient light to set your camera controls. Batteries are also important as a back up, and don't forget the memory cards. Keep half a dozen as this will not be a time to run out of space. Do not use JPEG to store the images. Instead, go for eps or tiff format. These images take more space but there is no loss of pixels because of compression.
The thing to remember when shooting fireworks is use the highest quality settings of the camera, for high quality images. Using a shutter remote is advisable, if it is available. It may be hard - and it may be challenging - but it will be worth the wait.