Learn Digital Photography - Framing Your Fireworks Shot
Fireworks displays can induce a lot of feelings in people as they are not only beautiful and amazing to observe but they also are many times used to commemorate momentous occasions.
The choice in where to aim your camera can be one of the hardest parts of firework photography. The challenge is that you will have to anticipate where the firework will explode and aim the camera in this area. Getting your framing right is still possible with the help of a few pointers.
Know the locations included in where the fireworks will be held. Planning is vital with fireworks and arriving to the site early will provide you the chance for the best, unobstructed view possible. Remember to think of what will appear in both the foreground and background of your shots. Make sure that people's heads will not be an issue and be considerate of your impact on those around you.
Be aware of where the fireworks will be launched from and into what is of the sky the will be shot to. If possible, ask those who are preparing for the show for information on what the event will consist of. Also, consider what focal lengths you might want to use and select suitable lenses at this time as opposed to in the middle of the show.
Watch your Horizons - One thing that you should always consider when lining up fireworks shots is whether your camera is even or straight in it's framing. This is especially important if you're going to shooting with a wide focal length and will get other background elements in your shots (ie a cityscape). Keeping horizons straight is something we covered previously on this site and is important in fireworks shots also. As you get your camera on your tripod make sure it's level right from the time you set up.
There are two main ways of framing shots in all types of photography, vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape), so do you shoot vertical or horizontal? You can choose either one. Both can work in fireworks photography but I find a vertical perspective is better, due to there being a lot of vertical motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots can work if your goal is more of a landscape shot with a wider focal length or if you want to include multiple bursts of fireworks in the one-shot.
Keep your framing in mind. Since I find myself watching the sky directly more when photographing fireworks instead of looking through my viewfinder, it is important to remember what framing you have set and watch that part of the sky. This will help to raise your level of anticipation of the shot as you will see the light trails of unexploded rockets being launched into the night.