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Thread: Camera settings for capturing fireworks

  1. #1
    stevewe88's Avatar
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    Camera settings for capturing fireworks

    Can anyone help me with a starting point for camera settings when trying to capture fireworks please?

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    Re: Settings for capturing fireworks

    I shot fireworks once,
    f11 and shutter speed set to "BULB" and used a remote.
    iso100-400

    start the exposure before the firework explodes and end it maybe a few seconds after.

    the problem is when there's too much at the same time, it gets messy.

    Here's the best I managed to get:

    Camera settings for capturing fireworks

    Camera settings for capturing fireworks

    my two cents, i'm sure there a more experienced firework guy around here
    Last edited by Zephyrize; 4th November 2009 at 05:08 PM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Settings for capturing fireworks

    Use a low iso (i.e. 100), the fireworks are plenty bright enough to make an exposure. If you're over land, focus on an object about the same distance as the fireworks (May not be an option in low-light). If you can't tell, calculate the hyperfocal distance(s) you'll need before you head out.

  4. #4
    Amberglass's Avatar
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    Re: Settings for capturing fireworks

    This is how I do it on my Nikon, but functional settings are the same for other camera brands

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTwdJGGqZQA

    If you're lens has IS or VR, turn it off when mounted on tripod.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 4th November 2009 at 05:20 PM. Reason: add

  5. #5

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    Re: Settings for capturing fireworks

    There is an alternative method which I sometimes find more adaptable to imperfect shooting conditions. But a lot will depend on your equipment.

    The traditional long exposure approach, which has already been mentioned, relies upon a good tripod and a perfectly aligned camera to firework burst arrangement. Which all too often is totally unobtainable.

    My alternative for handheld use involves a high ISO (400 or 800) and the slowest shutter speed that you can hold; say 1/30 or 1/60 at an extreme push. Set camera mode to Tv (shutter speed) and let the aperture find it's own level. I often use manual focusing which is pre set to infinity.

    This allows you to work amongst bustling crowds and to follow each firework skywards with your lens so you can be perfectly aligned for both low and high bursts. A knowledge of clay, or live, pigeon shooting would help.

    Over exposure is a constant worry but I find that I get less problems with this method particularly if I use one of the centre metering methods and aim directly at the burst.

    It does give a different type of result but I think it can appear more natural than the traditional slow feathery abstract image which doesn't look like any fireworks that I have actually seen.

    Another trick is to take a few background shots from the ground fireworks, like roman candles etc, but leave plenty of spare sky above them. You can then paste in bursts from other fireworks to make a composite image from several individual fireworks; adjust the layer blend mode so you get a seamless join.

    Originally, with film cameras a long exposure was set with a piece of black card covering the lens which was removed for successive bursts. But was a rather hit or miss affair.

    The problem with fireworks is that you only have one chance to get it right! I sometimes practice with distant street lights etc to see if my settings are about correct.

  6. #6

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    Re: Settings for capturing fireworks

    Here is an image where I have combined 3 sections to create a mirrored effect. Handheld at 1/30 using a 40D with 28-135 lens.

    Camera settings for capturing fireworks

    From this year's regatta - not sure if I should have cloned out the various boat lights.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 4th November 2009 at 06:59 PM. Reason: forgot the link

  7. #7
    stevewe88's Avatar
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    Re: Settings for capturing fireworks

    That's a great help, thank you everyone for your tips. I will give them all a try tonight and see which works best.

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