Tag Archives: Photographing Fireworks

PHOTOGRAPHING FIREWORKS WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE

Bonfire Night is fast approaching (less than 11 weeks to go – hehe) so thoughts turn to fireworks and of course taking pictures of the event.

Whilst many have top of the range camera’s today, most of us carry a smart phone so we are always ready to get clicking at any given moment.

In most instances, the photographs we take most frequently will be in well-lit/daylight environment during the Spring and Summer months which naturally presents a whole new set of shooting conditions to consider when taking photographs of fireworks, late evening and often in damp conditions.

Here at Epic we have previously offered advice on photographing fireworks effectively but there are a number of useful hints, tips and even an app to help you to get the most out of your iPhone on November 5th.

BEST PRACTICE

• Plan ahead – You can never do enough planning as the old saying goes, fail to plan, plan to fail. There are a few things you can do to avoid being caught out this Bonfire Night it you wish to take some memorable pictures. Where to stand? Usually, we would recommend in the designated viewing area but if you want shots with a specific feature included (tree, bridge, water etc) you must be sure to get there early and set up. Check your battery is fully charged and ready to shoot and clear as much memory space as possible (you don’t want to be ready to take the shot of the night and find yourself without the space to save it). Which way is the wind blowing – this might not be an apparent ‘plan ahead’ consideration but if you bear in mind that if the wind is in your direction, you may end up in a thick cloud of smoke you really should check before you set up.

• Accessories – There are a few accessories available today for most smartphone’s which will be of benefit to you. Unless you have a spot where you can safely rest the camera without the likelihood of any movement, we heartily recommend a tripod. Here at Epic, we use a full-sized one (picked up for around a fiver) but you can get some natty mini ones which are handy if you need something pocket-sized but they can be quite expensive so make sure you shop around. There are also specialist ‘moment’ lenses but these will be more of a hindrance than a help.

• APP – There are a couple of really good ones which have been tried and tested in the fireworks industry by friends and other pyrofreaks; NightCap and Slow Shutter Cam. Out of the two, I think that you will benefit more from the Slow Shutter Cam APP as you will be able to capture the full effect that is seen by the eye with the full light trails. Again, make sure you are fully conversant with the function and give it a try before the night as you don’t really want to be fumbling around whilst you are trying to enjoy the show.

Make no mistake, firework photography is incredibly challenging but once you establish what is going to best suit your abilities and give you the best results, you can only get better.

One final point, firework displays build and you will always have the ‘finale’ to check out so keep some of your energies for the end when the sky will be full of fireworks.

We would dearly love to see your firework pics and would like to feature them on our site. Let us have them via email to the following:

[email protected]

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How To Photograph Fireworks

Multiple Shells

Its heading to that time again, its Bonfire Night and the kids are raring to go, you have got them to the venue and now you want to capture their faces on film …. This is where it generally goes awry.

We understand the challenges of trying to take a photograph in what is often poor light, night-time and the fireworks are moving but once you are aware of the basic principles, it is really quite easy.

Before we go telling everyone how to do it, remember that irrespective of the equipment being used, you should still be able to take some really good snaps. Fireworks have the benefit of being really bright so even with a cheap and cheerful camera, some good images should be possible. Since the sensors on compact cameras and camera phones don’t tend to be as large as on the average DSLR, motion blur can be a significant issue. Take extra care to hold your camera as still and steady as possible. If your camera phone can capture video, that might be an even better option, especially for the grand finale!

As well as camera phones, there are a number of point and shoot cameras on the market which will also include a special fireworks shooting mode – this generally has an icon which looks like a bunch of fireworks – however, if your does not, this is not the end of the world. Please remember that night mode is not the same as firework mode.

• Find a suitable launch site.

• Situate yourself above ground level – generally some distance away.

• Avoid all external light sources so don’t stand under street lights.

• Check wind speed and direction, you don’t want to be stood in the pathway of the smoke.

• Consider including scenery in your pictures, both to offer a sense of scale and to keep your compositions interesting.

• Spectators can be a great way to capture the excitement of a fireworks display and gives you the opportunity to play around with techniques such as silhouetting. You could also consider including buildings, monuments, and similar structures as an addition to the fireworks themselves.

• As with most low-light photography, you will get the best results if you use a tri-pod.

• Turn off flash and auto focus – set it to manual focus and infinity.

• The beauty of fireworks isn’t just in the explosion itself, but in the trails of light that blossom out and slowly fade away as they fall. You’ll have to use relatively slow shutter speeds to capture the whole show.

• Play with your camera’s settings and experiment with different shutter speed and aperture settings to see what works best – you don’t want grainy messes or a washed out blur

Whatever your plans are for this Bonfire Night, don’t forget to bring your camera! From a huge national fireworks extravaganza to your own backyard barbecue’s, a little planning and a little luck will reward you with beautiful photographs. Just remember to follow your firework code and be safe!

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