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Shoot Fireworks With Your Pentax Camera

Firework photography tips with your Pentax camera.

| Creative

Shoot Fireworks With Your Pentax Camera : Firework

Image by David Clapp

With Bonfire night nearly upon us, what better time to take a look at photographing fireworks. Here, we help you to capture fireworks effectively. 

As long exposures are a must you will need to take a support with you. A tripod’s great but at busy events you may be better off with a monopod that takes up less room and is easy to move around with.

Stick to low ISOs where possible, however many DSLRs, such as the Pentax K-3 II and K-50, work very will at high ISOs, allowing you to capture noise free photos.

If you’re not a DSLR user it can be a little harder to capture frame-filling firework shots but it’s not impossible. Many compacts including the WG - 4 have a range of scene modes and a firework mode can often be found among them.

Wider lenses will capture more of the sky, increasing your chances of capturing a burst. You may want to try shooting a few in a portrait orientation, though, to capture the long trails left by the firework as it climbs to the spot where it explodes.

Finally, pack a torch as it’ll be dark and you may need it when making changes to your settings and for putting your kit away.

Switch to manual focus and turn your focus to infinity (check your manual if you’re unsure how to do this). This is to ensure the firework explosions stay sharp as they can be further than the maximum focus setting on your camera. Setting an aperture of f/8 or f/11 will increase your depth of field, further increasing the chances of capturing a sharp shot of a colourful explosion. Make sure your flash is switched off too.

If you shoot in RAW you’ll be able to tweak colours and brightness levels when you’re back in front of your computer once the display has finished. For shots filled with bursts of colourful explosions you’ll need to switch to Bulb mode. This mode, available on many DSLRs, allows you to keep the shutter open for longer but as you need to keep the shutter button pressed, it’s a good idea to use a cable release to prevent shake. 

In Bulb mode, you basically need to keep the lens covered (a dark piece of card will work) until a burst erupts. At this point you need to uncover the lens. Replace the card until another burst occurs and continue to do this with however many bursts as you like. It can take a while to get right as timing is key but you can create some great shots when you’ve perfected the technique.

If you don’t have a bulb mode you can capture single explosions with exposure times between 1-4 seconds. This should give you shots that show a light trail as the firework climbs as well as the final burst of colour at the end.

As displays don’t tend to be short affairs it pays to watch a few bursts so you can see where the fireworks are being launched into the sky and you’ll also be able to see how long it takes them to climb, plus how long the explosions last for. This will make framing easier, although you can’t obviously guarantee every burst will appear where you need it to. It’s worth doing a few test shots to make sure you’re happy with the composition too before the big display begins.

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