Fireworks. The word conjures of memories of 4th of July’s, New Year celebrations, visits to Disney theme parks, and other very special occasions.
Opening salvos. Nikon D600 with Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S lens @ 10 seconds, f/13, 28mm focal length, iso 100, and tripod.
So how do you take pictures of fireworks? It is not that hard really. Fireworks photography is one of those photographic techniques that is rather prescriptive. This article is a “how to” for digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.
In dimly lit situations, a flash unit is often used to light up a scene. But in some venues, flash photography is strongly discouraged or forbidden. Worse, some venues are too large for the flash unit to work effectively (remember, light falls off with the square of the distance).
High ISO shot of a high school band concert. Nikon D5000 and Nikon 18-55mm kit lens, 1/60 sec @ f/4.5, iso 3200, no flash.
What are we photographers supposed to do? Read on for some tips…
One way to add visual interest in your pictures is to compose the photograph such that the subject or major elements lead the viewer through the photograph, as if the viewer’s eyes are walking through the photograph.
Single Subject Draws the Eyes Through the Frame
One way of achieving this effect is to choose a subject that can grab the viewer’s attention and draw their eyes into the frame, through the frame, and then lead it out of the frame. An example of this technique is the picture of the guard posts and safety chain.
Guard posts and chain: using the subject as a compositional element to lead the viewer’s eyes into the picture, through it, and then out. Late afternoon at Torrey Pines Gliderport, La Jolla, CA. Nikon D5000 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S kit zoom lens.
The chain and closest guard post draw the viewer’s eyes in from the bottom right corner. The viewer’s eyes follow the chain up through the frame and to the left, then back to the right as the eyes continue to draw upwards, and finally out of the frame near the top right corner.
As with some things, using the proper technique will get you better results. Holding your digital SLR is clearly one of those things. Holding it right will get you steady pictures with no blur. Holding it any other way may yield blurry pictures from camera shake and induce muscle fatique after prolong use. Holding it the right way maximizes your ability to aim the camera, while controlling the zoom adjustment; adjusting the autofocus, shutter or aperture settings; and triggering the shutter release… All without having to take your eyes off of the viewfinder. With a little practice, it will become second nature.
The proper way to hold a digital SLR. Image copyright by Nikon USA.
Read on to see how you should properly grip your camera…