Shooting The Sky, At Night

These brilliant pictures are taken by top newspaper photographer Roger Jackson. Here he gives some useful tips on how to take pictures of fireworks.

More work from Roger can be seen on the Fleet Streets Finest page HERE.

So how do we achieve a result like Roger, here he tells us all how to …

‘First let us look at the equipment you need. A standard 50mm lens is good for photographing fireworks. If it is a big public display then you might need to use something a little wider as today’s modern displays can reach high in the sky. A tripod is essential for longer exposures as you will need to keep the camera steady to capture the trailing glow of the fireworks in the sky. You will find a cable release to fire the camera shutter a big help.

Fireworks in the sky can look amazing, but try and include something in the foreground to give a sense of scale to the display. You can use people as a foreground but his article focusephotographing the big public displays which send powerful, bright and colourful rockets high above our heads to dazzle and delight us. Is the display over a place of interest, castle, Stately home, bridge, a ship, city, if so take a moment to step back and consider the wider view. What about exposure. With today’s modern fireworks being so bright you should think about setting the camera to 100 or 200 iso which will give you the chance to capture the full colours of the fireworks. Next exposure times. To capture the full burst of a firework I have found that an exposure of about 1sec or 1.5secs at, f11, is a good starting point. With a shutter speed of 1 sec or more this is where a tripod becomes essential. A cable release will prevent camera shake as you make the exposure. Make a few quick exposures at the very beginning so you can check the back of the camera and make adjustments to suit your equipment. Each companies display will be different in brightness and colour.

Things to note. I usually avoid photographing the big cascades of waterfall fireworks as they are just blinding white lights. Good for silhouette’s but not much else. You should will be looking for the high colourful rockets that fill the sky with such great patterns. Get to your chosen position early and let your eyes become accustomed to the night. Then you will with luck be able to see the dim red lights of the rockets lifting off and as they reach their peak press the shutter release, then you will capture the full burst of the firework. Firework displays are theatre and with all theatricals things start slowly and build to a climax. So it is with firework displays. As the display reaches its crescendo the intensity of the light from the fireworks usually increases you might find that you need to stop down the lens aperture a little bit rather they slow the shutter speed. It is the slow exposure of 1 sec or more that is capturing the firework trails. So have fun at your firework display and “Stay Safe.”

Roger Jackson Sept. 2018.

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