In photography, there are lots of crazy semantics to understand! Everything from ISO’s and apertures, to shutters, diopters and f-stops, ASA’s and guide numbers are all part of the craft. Heck, there’s even one called the “circle of confusion” – and you can quickly get lost in the sea of words and acronyms in photography. One that I can’t believe I’ve not talked about here before is a triptych! It’s pretty simple actually when you break it down really though, so fear not. Here’s your beginner’s guide to triptych photography!
Over the years I have put together a number of posts featuring fireworks imagery. But, I have never given a tutorial or how-to on best practices for shooting fireworks. So,in light of the upcoming holiday, figured now would be as good a time as any to share some pointers on how to photograph fireworks.
The Rules for Shooting Fireworks
- The first step is to get there early – well before dusk. If you want a good spot, you’ll need to be there in advance of the crowds and masses. This way you’ll get a nice field of view without people blocking your sight lines.
- Set up on a tripod! This is almost an essential thing to do. Even if you hate tripods and want to be mobile. The fact of the matter is that most really good shots of fireworks will require a longer exposure than anyone can handhold. Your lens needs to be open for a few seconds (in general my fireworks shots tend to be in the 3-5 second range) and no one can hand hold that long!
- Set your point of focus for your lens to infinity. In general, fireworks are up far enough in the sky that setting it anywhere else will likely cause blurry fireworks. This is true regardless of whether you want to include surrounding areas or not.
- Set your aperture to at least f8.0 if not higher so you can get enough depth of field. (I generally use f16)
- Turn off image stabilization (or vibration reduction) if your lens is so equipped. IS (VR) attempts to counter hand shake. If your camera is on a tripod and there is no shake, the lens can tend to create shake where none exists. Some lenses are smart enough, but as a general rule, it’s a good idea. An added side benefit for shooting fireworks is that this will also extend your batter life on your camera.
- Make sure any filters you use during day time are off. I tend to have a UV filter on my wide angle lenses at all times. I often use a circular polarizer for evening and morning sunrise/sunset imagery too. Take these off for shooting fireworks as there’s no UV light at night (or polarized light to filter).
- I try to get most of my shots toward the beginning of a fireworks show. Toward the end, the smoke from prior displays is hanging in the air. This makes the “pristine shots” more difficult to capture that don’t require a lot of clean-up.
- Finally, to make your shots different, make sure you include surrounding areas in your composition. While a nice crisp fireworks plumage is always nice, these have been done literally millions of times and become boring quickly. Consider adding the reflection of the fireworks from the water below (fireworks are often lit over water for safety reasons).
Sample shots from shooting fireworks:
Enjoy the holiday and happy shooting!
Recently I wrote what was likely one of my most popular posts that showcases some of the most iconic photographs I’ve seen of all time. In the comments, several people mentioned that the article would be more complete if I also included details on the photographers. So, with that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to take some time to acknowledge the iconic photographers that made these amazing photographs.
The Flag Raising at Iwo Jima
Taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal.
His Pulitzer Prize for the photo was only part of his story. The part that is perhaps more striking is that he tried to become an Army photographer to serve his country, but was turned away. Undeterred, he joined the Associated Press and made his way to the Pacific Theater. There he went on to document the events in that capacity. He went on in his photographic career to work as the chief photographer and manager of Times Wide World Photos as well as a lengthy career of 35 years for the San Francisco Chronicle.
He received numerous citations and awards as a result of his efforts at Iwo Jima. The photograh was used as the inspiration for the Iwo Jima Memorial, was used in a postage stamp and is also featured at the Marine Recruiting Center in SC.
Taken by French Photographer Frank Fournier.
Fournier originally studied medicine, following in the footsteps of his father. He ultimately switched to photography for Contact press Images. His full bio and some sample images of his are on display over at their website. His humanitarian efforts in photography have been most impressive, and are worthy of mention here as well. I’d include his photo, but since it has copyright identification, and is not clearly identified for GNU licensing, will simply point anyone interested in his profile over at Contact Press.
Taken by Stan Stearns
Stearns took this photograph while serving as a photographer for Stars and Stripes, and later for UPI. He passed away recently and an obituary was written up in the New York Times. It showcases some of his more recent works. The write-up itself involves a very interesting story surrounding the photo and is something of a controversy of its own. He also has an archive of images over at Corbis. Again, to respect copyright, his image has not been included here.
Tank Man- was taken by Jeff Widener. Born in the U.S., Widener is most well-known for his photo of the lone student protesting in Tianamen Square during the Bejing Riots. He’s worked as an AP Picture Editor on a number of impressive assignments, and continues his photographic endeavors from Hamburg Germany. He has received several awards, has lectured and also been the subject of a number of interviews, and these are all well-documented in his Wikipedia Page, which includes a portrait photo, shown below. You can also check out his online presence and portfolio from his own website here.
VJ Day in Times Square
Taken by noted photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Eisenstaedt is probably one of the most pre-eminent photographers whose photos were showcased recently. His career spanned 43 years, including 90 covers on Life Magazine. His documentary efforts include many notable images, including the VJ Day photograph. He is probably one of the most widely recognized candid photographers of our century. There are several references to Alfreds’ work and contributions ranging from his Wikipedia page, his M Gallery Biography, and a selection of his prints are available from The Monroe Gallery as well. If you really want to know the man behind the photos, you should consider his book (available on Amazon here): Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt: A Self Portrait.
There you have it! A more in-depth look at some of the photographers behind the Ten Most Iconic Photographs of All Time. Thanks for stopping by the blog this week. Safe travels for those who must journey back after their own holiday trips. Keep on shooting, and remember the shoulders of those we stand upon. Endeavor to honor them by taking and making the best photographs you can!