You don't need a DSLR to get better fireworks photos. While you don't have as much control over the settings on a point-and shoot-camera, you can still take photos of fireworks that you'll love.
If you've ever attempted to shoot fireworks before, you may have ended up with blurry blobs in the sky or a photo of a bright burst that you later view and ask yourself why you bothered. To get photos that you'll want to view again and again, think a bit about where you will view the fireworks, who you will be with you, and what you might want to remember.
Here are a 5 tips to take better fireworks photos:
Bring: an extra battery if you have one (a fully charged battery if you don't), a flashlight or cellphone with a bright screen to light up your camera in case you want to change settings, a tripod, a sweater or jacket to wear, or to use to prop up your camera if you don't have the tripod.
- Set your camera to fireworks scene mode - Switch your camera out of automatic mode and find the "scenes" menu. Many point-and-shoot cameras have a Fireworks mode identified by a little fireworks burst. If you don't have that scene, look for the night scene that requires a tripod.
- Steady your camera -The camera's shutter will stay open for up to 2 seconds or more to capture the light from the fireworks. If the camera moves or shakes, you'll get a blurry photo. Still, you don't need a huge tripod for your little point and shoot camera. Joby's Gorrillapod flexible little tripods work in a number of situations. You can attach them to your camera and put it on a fence post, the top of a car, anyplace that will get a clear view of the sky. Because the Gorillapod can bend and wrap its legs, the surface doesn't have to be perfectly flat. You can even use a pole.
- Choose your location - If you are looking for clear photos of the fireworks in the night sky, find a location that is upwind of where they are shooting off the fireworks. As the show goes on, the sky will become hazy with smoke. While that can be a nice effect, you'll probably want most of your photos to be bright colored bursts against a dark sky. If you want the shot to be hazy, move downwind.
- Better photos rely on better composition- Fireworks bursts can be interesting and dramatic, but I'd bet that those photos end up hidden in some photo library never to be viewed again. (It's true for me anyway.) What makes for a more interesting photo is one that captures the spirit of your experience. Use these 5 tips for more interesting photos, not only for fireworks, but for any event.
- Location- One way is to take the picture of the fireworks and include the location —the city skyline, refections of the fireworks in water. the county fair rides below.
- Foreground objects- Fireworks exploding behind a shadow in the foreground can make for an interesting composition, whether it's a stationary object like a tree, the silhouette of a group of people, or even the corner of a building. Don't be afraid to get low to the ground and shoot up for a dramatic effect.
- Portraits - To shoot a portrait of your friends or family with the fireworks behind them, try the night portrait mode (typically an icon of a person and the night skyline). Because the camera uses the flash, be courteous of others around you that can become distracted by the bright light
- Horizontal or vertical composition - Most people default to shooting a photo horizontally. This position is good for the finale, but you may want to turn the camera vertically for photos that capture the trail of the rocket.
- About Zooming in- If you are far away, you may want to zoom-in to see the action of those putting on the fireworks show. For example, every year there's a fire on the hill where I watch fireworks. Including the firefighting efforts with the fireworks tells the story and makes for aninteresting action shot. Before you zoom in to get a close up of the fireworks burst, remember that the camera's digital zoom will be grainy and not as sharp as the regular optical zoom (before the line in the zoom indicator).
5. Get your timing right before the finale - Because you have less control over how long the shutter stays open on your point-and-shoot camera, use the first fireworks bursts to figure out when to press the shutter to take the picture. Is it when the fireworks have shot up halfway in the sky? Is it as the first burst starts to come out? The finale will be the most dramatic display, you'll want to know when to start shooting to get a full burst. But, you may want to wait until one or two bursts have been exploded to get varying degrees of the effects of the finale. Use your knowledge to take a shot starting with about the third or fourth burst.
Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment.