Posted by Andy Pickford
Guy Fawkes wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and it’s the 5th of November again………, or what ever date you manage to get to your local firework display, or you get the chance to play pyromaniac in the back yard (I’m sure on behalf of the club I recommend going to an organised firework display instead of lighting fireworks yourself. Stay safe please) It’s that time of year when you look into the sky and think “These fireworks would make great images, now what do I need to set my camera to?”
Well, the good news is it’s not as difficult as you might think.
The first thing you need to think about is your photography kit. You will need:
- Lens. If your camera is a DSLR you will need to fit a lens to it. Preferably a wide angle lens, the wider the better.
- Tripod. You will be setting up your camera for long exposures, you will not be able to hand hold so a tripod is essential.
- Remote release. Again because of the long exposures a remote release is pretty much an essential. You can use the shutter release button on the camera, but you risk vibration when touching the camera.
- Spare Batteries. Long exposures will drain the batteries on your camera very quickly so the more spares you have the more shots you can take. (It would be a shame to run out just as you get to the good bit!!!)
- Card or Lens cap. I’ll explain this bit later.
Make sure if you are going to an organised display you know where it is, and also where on the site they actually launch the fireworks from. It’s embarrassing to set everything up and then find the display takes place behind you.
If you can get to where you’re going early (while it’s light) you can check everything out, and get the best view possible. It might be worth setting things up in the light so you can see what you’re doing. If you want to try and add some foreground detail to your images later you can take a couple of shots in the light or half light, but you will need to make sure you don’t move the camera, or the zoom on your lens once you’ve take these shots.
O.K. now the business bit of the evening (thank god you’re saying,, he’s coming to the point), The settings for your camera. Browse the web and you will find a thousand and one lists of setting for taking fireworks, but I took the images in this article with these.
- I.S.O. 100
- Aperture F22
- Shutter 30 seconds
If you want to you can set the shutter speed to bulb and lock the shutter open, then use the lens cap or piece of card to block the light from getting to the sensor in between fireworks.
These settings should be taken as a guide, don’t be afraid to experiment, if you don’t get the results you like the next display is probably only a few miles down the road and 24 hours away.
Good luck getting the shots you want. Have fun, keep safe and… “Remember, remember the 5th of November, gun powder, treason and plot! I see no reason why gun powder treason should ever be forgot.
This article has been linked to this site so well done Andy!
Members’ 2014 fireworks pictures can be seen here.