In coming weeks, our skies will be lit up with many different colours as we bring in the festival of Diwali. Fireworks are always a fun spectacle to watch and no matter how old you maybe, it’s always exciting. Capturing this on your digital camera is a good way of preserving the memory since it’s over in a flash anyways. Photographing fireworks is not super difficult as long as you have all the tools for the job.
Think beyond point-and-shoots
A point-and-shoot is good for daytime shoots, but when it comes to fireworks, you’ll want one with more manual settings or better still, a DSLR. Many high-end point-and-shoot cameras offer you manual settings and the ability to set the exposure and aperture levels, which is needed. A rule of thumb when shooting fireworks is to keep the ISO as low as possible, increase the aperture for more light and have a long exposure so you capture the trails of the fireworks as well.
Get into position
Now that you’ve got your camera ready to go, it’s time to find a nice spot to set up. Ideally, choose a spot that’s at a height with no buildings or trees in between, unless of course you want get some artistic shots. It’s also important to frame your shot. Wait for a while and see where the fireworks light up in the sky and accordingly position the camera. It’s also advisable to use a tripod when shooting since even a minor shake of your hand will result in a blurry shot.
Ensure the camera settings are correct
Before you go digging around in manual mode, check and see if your camera has a ‘Fireworks’ mode. Many of the newer digital cameras come with preset modes that automatically adjust the settings for that scene. Fireworks is now a common preset, so check if you have it. If you’re setting up the camera in manual mode, then here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind:
Set the focus to infinity — Change the focus mode to manual focus and set it to infinity. You can leave it at this setting for the rest of the night since even if you re-position your camera, the distance will still be greater than what your camera can focus on, so it’s best left at infinity.
Make sure you turn off the flash -- Fireworks give out their own light, so you don’t really need any sort of illumination. Enabling the flash will only soften the image and you won’t get a sharp image with accurate colours.
Start off with an aperture of f/5.6 and ISO level of 50 or 100. If it’s too dark, trying opening the aperture a little more (f/4). If it’s a bit washed out, then drop it down a bit (f/8). Play around with the settings till you get a sharp, well exposed image.
Keep the shutter open for long
Now that you’ve set up the camera to capture fireworks, it’s important to keep the shutter open long enough, so you capture the entire burst. Most high-end point-and-shoots or DSLRs let you set the exposure to 30 seconds or more. Also, make sure that nothing touches the camera during this time.