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Framing Your Firework's Shot

Jul 5, 2008
Fireworks Displays are something that evoke a lot of emotion in people as they are not only beautiful and spectacular to watch but they also are often used to celebrate momentous occasions

Figuring out where to aim your camera can be one of the most complicated factors in photographing fireworks. The difficulty lies in that you will typically need to aim the camera prior to the fireworks to be photographed go off. Anticipating the moment is essential. Note the following tips to get your framing right.

Photo by Stuck in Customs Scope out the location early - Planning is important with fireworks and getting to the location early in order to get a good, unobstructed position is important. Think about what is in the foreground and background of your shots and make sure you won't have people's heads bobbing up into your shots (also consider what impact you'll have on others around you also).

Try to determine in what area the fireworks are being set up and into what area of the sky they will most likely to shot into. Check with those who are organizing or setting up for the event if possible for this information if you cannot tell yourself. Also decide on what focal lengths you might want to use and select the right lenses now as opposed to during the firework show.

Watch for the horizons. An important factor when lining up fireworks shots is whether your camera is even or straight in its framing. This is particularly essential if you're going to shooting with a wide focal length and will get other background elements in your shots such as a cityscape. Keeping horizons straight is something we covered previously on this site and is important in fireworks shots also. Make sure your camera is level on your tripod from the time you set up.

How do you choose vertical or horizontal? There are two main ways of framing shots in all types of photography, vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape). Although both can be used in fireworks photography, I myself find a vertical perspective is better, mostly because there is a lot of vertical motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots will work if you are aiming for more of a landscape shot with a wider focal length or if you want to capture multiple bursts of fireworks in the one shot.

Framing is always important. When I photograph fireworks, I find I tend to look at the sky more than my viewfinder. This means I have to keep in mind what framing I have and to watch that part of the sky. This practice will help you to anticipate the right time for a shot because your eye can follow the light trail produced by the launching rockets before they explode to light up the sky and your firework photograph.
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