How to take pictures of fireworks with a digital camera

There is no more difficult an assignment than shooting fireworks with a digital camera. You may go click, click, click like a mad shutterbug but still you will be unable to capture the best fireworks. This is because the fireworks streak through the night sky one after the other. Even before you have clicked one there’s another that explodes right over your head throwing a brilliant shower of light. And your face falls, because you realize you haven’t got it. To avoid this from happening, you must learn how to take pictures of fireworks.

This involves arriving early, and finding out the direction in which the fireworks will streak through the sky. Next is to take a vantage position that can capture this angle. You should ideally set up your cameras at a slightly elevated place.

This position should be in the corner of the field. Otherwise, there is the danger of crowds tripping over your tripod or jostling for better view in front of your lens. You must also make sure that a streetlight is not shining on your lens or a tree branch curving just above it. Both these can disturb your light settings and focus.

You must ensure that you have a tripod with you. This is essential because you need long exposures to get the best light effect. Also, the tripod must be kept on flat ground, and should not be wobbly. To further eliminate the possibility of shaking the camera you should use a cable release. This will allow you to release the shutter without touching the camera.

A good precaution is to carry a flashlight. Remember, it’s going to be dark, and you will not find sufficient light to set your camera controls. Also, don’t forget spare, stand by batteries. There’s no point in being stranded with a camera without power.

Finally, don’t forget memory cards. Make sure that you have at least half a dozen, if not more. This will help you shoot photographs without worrying about running out of storage space.

Also, be patient. Don’t start shooting from the word go. You must remember that each firework ends up with a great finale. Keep enough memory to capture this. Maybe, you should keep one set of batteries ready only for this. This way you will be able to capture the best fireworks.

This is about getting ready. Now, you have to get the right camera settings. For this, you need to put your camera in the landscape mode. On most digital cameras the landscape mode is designated by an icon that looks like a small mountain range.

Don’t use JPEG to store the images. Instead, go for eps or tiff format. These images take more space but there is no loss of pixels on account of compression.

You must also be careful about exposure. Short exposures will not capture the fireworks properly while long exposures will produce a blurring effect. The best is to open the shutter when the firework explodes in the sky and to close it when the fire shower peaks. This may take anything from one to four seconds depending upon the strength of the fireworks.

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