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photo:fireworks

photographing fireworks

basic requirements and camera settings

  • location, location, location
    • choose a spot with a good view of the fireworks with aesthetic compositional elements, checking forecast wind direction to avoid the smoke blowing towards you, and safe
  • you will need a tripod - unless you have amazing image stabilisation and using a wide angle lens - such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II combined with a Olympus mZD 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO lens which will allow perhaps 2-8secs hand held if your are very careful at the wider focal lengths
  • almost any camera and lens will do as long as the lens has good optics (perhaps remove any filters as these are likely to degrade image quality and cause lower contrast and flare) and the right field of view for your composition, and the camera has full manual controls - but if you want to take it a step further, Olympus OM-D cameras with Olympus Live Time mode and Olympus Live Composite mode functionality with their superb image stabiliser can change the way you shoot fireworks

common basic camera settings

  • lowest ISO possible - eg. ISO 100
  • manual focus - focus on distant region or infinity
  • if using Olympus cameras set Live Boost = On (setting one for newer cameras with 2 settings of Live Boost) - this will make the viewfinder brighter, easier to compose and manually focus with
  • set shutter speed to around 2 to 4 seconds to capture sufficient trailing of the fireworks (this is why you need a tripod or superb image stabiliser)
    • alternatively you can use BULB mode open the shutter in anticipation and then close it within 2 - 4 secs of the fireworks going off
    • Olympus cameras also have a useful and unique Live BULB mode so you can visualise the image as it is building up and then terminate it as desired
    • Olympus cameras also have a useful and unique Live Time mode which is similar to the Live BULB mode but you don't need to keep the shutter pressed down throughout the exposure - just hit the shutter button again to terminate it.
  • set aperture to around f/11 to reduce over-exposure of the bright fireworks (if they are further away you may need a wider aperture - experiment!
  • set self timer to 2 secs to reduce camera shake when you press the button (not needed if you use a remote control)
  • set White Balance to 5300K
  • shoot RAW + jpeg
    • if shooting jpeg only (not recommended) - consider a vivid, contrasty, saturated Picture mode with sharpness to minus 1 and a low noise filter level (assuming you may do some noise processing in software)

many cameras have a "Scene mode" for fireworks

  • if you get stuck or are in a hurry, try changing the scene mode to fireworks and this will change most of the settings to the basic settings outlined above

newer Olympus cameras have a unique "Live Composite" mode

don't forget to consider shooting movies too!

  • manual focus, manual WB as above
  • set to movie mode, preferably with a great movie image stabiliser such as with the latest Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras.
photo/fireworks.txt · Last modified: 2018/01/01 01:29 by gary1