Five tips for your Fireworks Film Photos

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Summertime brings with it long, clear, warm nights and plenty of excuses to set a giant stick of explosives on fire, run away, and photograph the cacophonous and polychromatic results. To get you started, our expert fireworks setter-offer Peter Carlson has some quick tips and tricks.

 

Pictured: Peter Carlson, resident pyro and fire safety officer at Blue Moon Camera. Photo by David Paulin

Pictured: Peter Carlson, resident pyro and fire safety officer at Blue Moon Camera.
Photo by David Paulin

 

5. Focus to infinity

This might go without saying, but fireworks are (hopefully) very far away from you and your camera. If they aren’t, please stop reading and correct this error in judgement. We’ll wait.

Now, be sure that your luminous explosions are in focus no matter where they go off by setting your lens focus to infinity and keeping it there. You don’t want to be messing with focusing in the split seconds of brief but awe-inspiring fire power.

Fireworks in the River by Peter Carlson, 7min exposure

This glorious scene captures 12 whole minutes of freedom.
Fireworks in the River by Peter Carlson, a 12min exposure

 

4. Stick to smaller apertures

Starting off at around f11 is a good idea. This helps sharpen some of those white-hot details and is also a good idea because you’ll want to…

 

3. Make a long exposure

You may have fast fingers, but there’s no way you’re gonna snap that starburst at a thirtieth of a second. Bring a tripod and let your lens take in the view for awhile. If you start at f11, pairing that with a 30 second exposure should help you capture those brilliant flashes of unbridled patriotism. But don’t stop there; experiment with longer and longer exposures to capture all the blaze and glory (in case you missed it in the caption, the above river scene was a 12 minute exposure).

Sparkler Spin by Peter Carlson

Sparkler Spin by Peter Carlson

 

2. Use a saturated color film

Like Ektar 100, for example. Sure, you could use a black and white if you really wanted, but then you might miss some of the kaleidoscopic shades of excited metal oxides as they burst into the air and shower down upon the world below, and what fun would that be?

Don't be fooled by this Black Cat--black is in fact the presence of ALL colors, and only with Ektar can you properly see them. Black Cat by Peter Carlson

Don’t let this Black Cat fool you – black is in fact the presence of ALL colors, and it’s only with Ektar that can you properly see them.
Black Cat by Peter Carlson

 

 

1. Bring beer

Only if you’re legally of age to drink, of course. But if you’re 21 and older, don’t miss this most important step. Trust us on this one.

Bottle rocket by Peter Carlson

Bottle rocket by Peter Carlson

 

Go forth and make explosions, people. Have a safe and happy 4th of July.

Don't do anything we would do. Photo by David Paulin

Don’t do anything we would do.
Photo by David Paulin

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