Wednesday, 18 September 2013

アメリカチームのはなび~ I missed the fireworks by Disney *sigh*

Anyway, here's some quick steps & tips for newbie photographer by a newbie photographer.. (make sense? no?)

1. Framing
This actually depends on how massive the fireworks are. Usually, fireworks for celebrations and competitions are super massive and humongous. Therefore, you will need to find a location far enough so that you will be able to capture the whole firework into your frame unless you just want to capture a fraction of it. For starters, I'd say, get a far enough location and capture the whole fireworks into your frame. You can still crop them if you want to later on.. Horizontal or vertical, you ask? I usually go for horizontal as fireworks are usually wide rather than tall but then again, it depends on individuals. You can always experiment on both and decide on which you like.

2. Stable Base / Tripod.
This is the most basic thing (tripod) you need besides your camera, ofcourse unless you can hold on to your camera in a super stable position or have other type of base. The first thing you need to do is set up you tripod on a stable ground or set up a stable tripod on uneven ground / slope. This is important because we will be using slow shutter speed when capturing fireworks. Why slow shutter speed? You'll get your answer later..

3. Remote Release (optional)
A remote is not necessary but it is a plus point if you have it. When you use a remote, there will be less motion on the camera movement as you are not using your finger to push the shutter button on your camera. Hence, less chance of  movement and motion blur effect on your photo.

4. ISO
As we all know, the higher you set your ISO, the more noisy the picture becomes. But that would mean less sensitivity towards light! Are we not suppose to set our camera to be sensitive towards light when we are shooting fireworks? Yes, we are capturing light but remember that we are using slow shutter speed. Also because our main focus are the fireworks, we want a clean shot - not noisy pictures or overexposed pictures. Therefore, we will use the lowest ISO. ISO 100 will do the work just fine.

5. Focal Length
How do you set the focal length when the fireworks come and go in just seconds? Well, in this case, it is always safe to set your  focal length to infinity. Try to focus on objects which you think is near to where the firework will appear. Then, set your focus to manual setting rather than auto setting to prevent your camera to keep trying to auto focus on the varying fireworks every shot. It is a waste of time because your camera will have a hard time trying to get the correct focus point in low light environment.So, remember. Manual focus.

6. Aperture
Set you aperture from f8 to f16 and you will do just fine. A narrow aperture will create more focus on the lights you are capturing and hence a sharper image of the firework rays rather than with a partly blur firework. Do not worry about not being able to capture enough light because fireworks are actually emits pretty bright light if you have not noticed.

7. Shutter Speed (Important!)
When capturing fireworks, always use a slow shutter speed / long exposure instead of a fast shutter speed because you want to capture the pattern of the firework from the moment it lights up in the sky till the moment it burst open and vanish into the dark sky. Do not ever think that because lights move fast, you need to capture it in a split second because if you do, all you would capture are just dots of lights during those split second.

So how long should you leave the shutter open? Technically, 4 to 6 seconds would be long enough to give you pretty shots of the firework. However, as every duration of the individual firework shot display varies, it is wiser to use 'BULB' mode instead. 'BULB' mode enable you to keep the shutter open as long as you want to. Press once to open the shutter, keep your finger pressed to keep the shutter open and release your finger when you want to close the shutter when in 'BULB' mode. Press your shutter button once you hear the firework being shot and you won't miss a thing.

So, umm.. where is 'BULB' mode? You'll get into 'BULB' mode when you scroll your dial to the slowest shutter speed - after 30 seconds.

8. Image Stabilizer
Remember to disable the Image Stabilizer. Image stabilizer is to contra your shaky hands. Therefore, if the camera is already stable on the tripod, turn it off. Turning on Image Stabilizer when your camera is on a tripod is only cause unintentional shaking to your image. So, remember to turn it off if your lense has IS because almost 100% of the time, it would be on :)

9. Manual Mode
Turn your setting to Manual Mode so that you can adjust the Aperture/Exposure and Shutter Speed to those as mentioned above.

10. Flash
Flash? What flash? You don't need any flash for firework shots! 

So there you go! You're all ready to shoot your first successful firework shot! Experiment more with your camera and you will get a hang of it. :)

I hope my steps and tips did help you get good firework photographs! :)

Good luck!



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