On New Years Eve you can pretty much guarantee that the night sky somewhere near you will be quite literally on fire. Capturing such a spectacle on camera is easy if you know how – here are some of our top tips!
What you will needAs you will essentially be taking night time long exposures, you will need more than a steady hand, and you’ll need some help to see, so make sure you pack:
Shutter SpeedIf your camera has a bulb mode, use it. That way you will have more control over what you capture, which ideally is the WHOLE firework.
Most fireworks take a couple of seconds to complete - this is how long you should keep the shutter open for. Remember, the longer it is open, the less contrast there will be and the brighter the surrounding sky and setting.
A faster shutter speed will only capture a moment of the firework, whereas what we are after is movement of the firework.
Focal lengthUnless you are taking a picture of someone with a sparkler, you can pretty much bet that the subject of your photo is at quite a distance, so a long focal length is necessary, which is great for focus and course it means the small aperture will let in less light. Great for long exposures, especially of fireworks because the brightness of the fireworks will expose just fine even with relatively short shutter speeds.
Close up subjects and light paintingThe best way to ready yourself for taking pictures of people with sparklers or glow sticks is to get someone to stand where the action will happen with a flashlight. Set your camera to manual and adjust your focus and shutter speed for the conditions, then wait for the real action to begin.
PositionGet in a good position, either above the crowds or in front of them. Not only do you want to make sure your view is unobstructed, you want to ensure that no one knocks your tripod during a long exposure! You can create extra drama by getting buildings and plants in the shot too as a backdrop or to create a silhouette.
Multiple ExposuresA neat trick to try is a multiple exposure. For this, you need to keep your shutter open for a long time – say 20 to 30 seconds, but take along a piece of thick black card to cover the lens between fireworks. It requires some experimentation, but can lead to some very cool shots!
Finally - take plenty of sparesFirework displays may not last long, but you will find that you will be shooting almost continuously to make sure you don’t miss a thing. As such pack a spare battery and definitely spare memory cards – especially if shooting in RAW.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Can’t wait to see your first pictures of 2013!
Photos courtesy of Ross, Tineke and Alexis