Fireworks have been used for celebrations across the globe for thousands of years. Whether it's for New Year Eve, Independence Day, an Olympic Ceremony, or some other festival, we use colorful fireworks to celebrate these events. Did you know that Americans light about 175 million pounds of fireworks during the 4th of July, which is equivalent to about 100,000 lightning bolts?
So, in this high-speed photography tutorial, we are going to learn how to capture such colorful firework shows happening in your city. We are going to use the MIOPS Smart Camera Trigger for it, which is the best high-speed photography equipment for this type of photography. Let's see what else we need to do.
Plan in advance:
Fireworks show happens on some special occasions. Check out the dates of the next show in your city so you can save the date.
Select the location:
When you know the date and place of the next show, go to that location to find out the spot where you are going to place your camera to shoot the event. Make sure it has lots of open sky and some interesting elements in the foreground. Also, check with the local authority whether you'll be able to access or are allowed to be in this spot during the fireworks show.
Let's talk about camera settings. We are going to use a DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens for this shoot along with MIOPS high-speed photography camera trigger. Set your aperture to f/8 and ISO between 100 and 400. Shutter speed needs to be around one second (1") to capture the entire burst of firework.
There are two ways of capturing fireworks. We can open the shutter for a long time and capture multiple bursts of firework in a single shot. But using a long exposure is not advisable as we need very low lights in the foreground and there are fewer chances of getting a perfect shot. It may be overexposed, or the camera may shake while the shutter is open, thereby ruining the picture. You'll also find it hard to get a black sky due to lights and smoke in the air.
The second method is to take one shot of the foreground and multiple shots of fireworks then merge them in post-processing to create our final picture. This method is more effective because you will have lots of firework photos, and you can select the best one to add to your final picture. Also, if a shot is overexposed or blurry, you can discard it and use another one.
Get to your pre-determined place early so you can make sure you have the best view of the fireworks. Set your camera on a tripod in manual mode. First, we'll take our shot of the foreground. Focus on the foreground and take a shot. Make sure the sky is black in this shot otherwise, you'll have difficulty adding fireworks in post-processing. Avoid having a body of water in your foreground shot otherwise, you will need to add the fireworks' reflection to it, something that requires advanced post-processing skills.
After having taken your foreground shot, do not move your camera, and simply change the focus to infinity. Attach the MIOPS high-speed camera trigger to your camera and it to the lightning mode with a sensitivity of between 20-25%.
Now sit back and enjoy the show while the camera does the work. Every time fireworks burst, the camera will capture it. When you have taken enough shots, change the camera position, and take shots from a different perspective.
Download all the images to your computer and select the firework shots that you want to add to the foreground shot. Again, we are going to use Photoshop® for this. If you don't have Photoshop®, you can download a trial version from the Adobe website.
Open your foreground image along with the 5-6 best firework shots you have selected. The easiest way to do it to place all these pictures in a folder, open Photoshop®, click on File >> Scripts >> Load Files into Stack…, browse and select the images. Make sure both checkmarks at the bottom are unchecked (see the screenshot).
When you do this, all your images files will be added to different layers in the same Photoshop file. Drag your foreground image to the bottom layer if it's not already there.
Now hide all layers except the foreground and the layer above the foreground layer. In other words, your foreground layer and your first fireworks image will be the only two visible layers. Change the fireworks layer blending mode to "Lighten." This will make only the fireworks from that layer visible, and the rest of the image will be hidden automatically.
Repeat this process with all other layers and you’ll have your final image with multiple bursts of fireworks like you saw on the internet.
Once you are satisfied with your picture, merge all the layers, and export your image. Now share it all over the internet, and don't forget to share them here too.
Related Article: How to Take the Extraordinary Lightning Photos
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.