How to Video Fireworks
Fireworks is a challenging subject for the video shooter, especially if you are used to using automatic functions. The best thing you can do to create a better fireworks video is to use manual functions. Of course this applies to all video, but in the case of fireworks it's not just a recommendation—it's essential. Here are a few specific tips...
Auto-focus will "hunt" (go in and out of focus) constantly during fireworks. You will need to use manual focus instead (as you should anyway). Obviously you won't be able to keep adjusting the focus for each set of fireworks but you won't need to. In most cases you can just set the focus to infinity and leave it there.
In some cases automatic iris can produce quite good results with fireworks but it's not generally a good idea. You are better off setting the iris to a level which captures the exploding fireworks well and leave it on that setting.
Over-exposure is common with fireworks, resulting in white, ill-defined pictures. Be conservative—it is better to slightly under-expose than over-expose.
A standard outside white balance setting should be fine.
Position, Framing, Movement, etc.
- Find a good position where people won't get in the way.
- A tripod is a good idea if you are planning on shooting for more than 5 or 10 minutes. You will also be able to enjoy the display yourself more if you have a tripod.
- Wide-angle shots usually work best.
- If there is a lot of fireworks happening, don't try to chase them all. Concentrate on the main area of action.
- Don't worry too much about normal framing rules (such as the rule of thirds) unless you are framing the fireworks with something else, such as a stadium or staging area. Mostly the display will look fine if it just fills up the frame.