Fireworks are amazing. And we all want to take great photos to remember the display.
But fireworks photography is hard. The fireworks go off when you’re not ready. They burst in different parts of the sky. You press the button too early. Or too late. The images are fuzzy. And then the display is over. Aarrghhh!!!
But with a some planning (and more than a bit of luck) anyone can get great results. I’ve been practising for years, and have had my work featured in the Guardian and on CNN.
Here are my 5 top tips for beginners.
Use a tripod. You are trying to take a photo of a burning light. You’re standing in the dark. Maybe it’s cold. Or raining. Or both. The most important thing you can do is KEEP THE CAMERA STILL. Use a tripod if you possibly can. Or hold your camera steady against something that won’t move – a tree, a lamppost, a bench. Hold your breath and squeeze the button gently. Don’t “snap” – if you do the camera will move and the picture will be blurred.
Use the best camera you can. The phone on your camera is fine – in daylight. And some are even getting better in the dark. But if you can use a better camera it will really improve your photos.
Turn off auto features. No flash. No autofocus. No filters. Go for the simplest set up you can. And if you have a really good camera, you will be able to explore the settings which will make your photos even better. I’ll be writing more about this in a later post.
Stand further back. Most people try to capture the firework itself in the night sky. This is fine. But part of what you are wanting to remember is the people who were there. The atmosphere. The excitement. If you stand a bit further back you can get some of these elements in your photo, too.
Mind the smoke. All fireworks produce smoke. And if it’s between you and the fireworks, your picture may be disappointing. Try to stand upwind of the display with the wind coming over your shoulder. That way the smoke will drift away from you and won’t spoil the photo.
Having said that, sometimes the smoke itself can be really dramatic:-
Now there is one final tip I would give anyone. TAKE LOADS OF PHOTOGRAPHS. Take some at the beginning of the display. Check them. Are they what you are looking for? Do you need to move? Do you need to time it differently? Do you need to try a different setting?
Digital photos cost nothing to take, so take lots of photographs and find the best one afterwards.
I’ll be posting advanced tips soon, so bookmark this page and check back later.
I’ve worked with fireworks for nearly 20 years, and people often ask me “Where is the best place to buy fireworks?” and “Can you deliver fireworks direct to me at home?”
You’d think the answer is simple: Buy them from us! Peak Fireworks has a great range of fireworks for every budget and every occasion. We are open all year round And if we don’t have something in stock we can usually get it in a matter of days. We do free local delivery. And we only sell fireworks suitable for the place you want to set them off.
But of course not everyone lives near our office or store. So they go online and do a search for “fireworks shop near me” and see half a dozen or more different companies. Some are big. Some are small. Lots are only open at Bonfire Night. Quite a few don’t answer the phone. They have websites with unconvincing “special offers” or “buy this one, get this one free”. The choice is really hard to make.
So my advice to people is simple. Look around. Find a company you feel you can trust. And build a relationship with them.
A good, reliable fireworks company will usually look like this:-
They will be open all year round. They won’t be selling cheap fireworks (which will only disappoint you). They won’t be advertising prices like “RRP” “SSP” “Was £x” unless it’s a genuine sale. They will talk to you and help you decide which fireworks are safe to use at your particular event. They won’t try to make you spend more than you want to. And they will be there to help you next year, too.
Good luck with your hunt for fireworks.
And most importantly, be safe. We want you and your audience to go home safe and sound at the end of your evening.
If you are having a party, fireworks can make all the difference. And Peak Fireworks would love to help you choose the right products to make your event as special and as safe as possible.
We have spectacular fireworks suitable for anywhere from small gardens to the largest outdoor space you can find.
Call us to talk through what you want to buy, and how we can help your celebration go to the next level.
We will want to ask you:-
How big is the area where you want to light your fireworks?
How many people will be at the party?
How far away will they be from the fireworks?
Are there any overhanging trees or power lines?
What time do you want to let them off? (It has to be before 23:00 – except on Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, and Chinese New Year)
Do you need to tell your neighbours about the display? (It’s always a good idea, especially if they have pets.)
Who is going to light the fireworks, and how can you be as safe as possible?
Do you want any particular types of fireworks, or special colours?
Oh… and how much do you want to spend? (Other companies will ask you this question first. We don’t. Because it’s not the most important question. We will only sell you fireworks that match our safety guidelines).
So go ahead. Plan your party. And give us a call to add the finishing touch.
The best parts of running a fireworks company all take place outdoors. Meeting clients, visiting venues, planning a display to fit the location… and of course firing the display itself. We fire a lot of our shows by hand so we’re often in the middle of things.
We’re out in the dark in the middle of a field. We can hear the crowd getting ready and wanting the show to start. We’ve been there for hours setting everything up. Checking it. Checking it again. Making sure it will all go to plan.
There’s a countdown. 10, 9, 8…
And we’re off. There are fireworks exploding at our feet and right above our heads. We have full PPE of course, and we have strict safety procedures. Even on the shows fired by computer, when we can be up to half a mile away, we get the very best view of the fireworks as they fill the night sky. The tension, the excitement, the noise, the flashes, the colours… there’s nothing to beat it.
But now COVID is here, and lockdown has more or less confined me to the office. It’s all work that has to be done, but fatigue can certainly set in. So I try to follow these rules to keep my energy levels high. You might like to try them yourself, wherever you work.
Keep a list of tasks that need doing, but don’t let it get too long (it just gets dispiriting).
Start your day with a couple of quick wins so you feel like you are making progress.
Have a “top jobs” section on your list – no more that 3 things which really need attending to today.
Even within that list have ONE priority task for the day, and (whatever else happens) make some progress on that task.
Notice your own energy levels and the times of day when you are most productive. Focus on your priority task at those times. Leave the other, shorter, less-important tasks to tick off when you have less energy.
Take regular breaks. These can be at set times (11:00 13:00 and 16:00 in my case) when I can drink, eat, see other people, and touch base with the real world.
Stay hydrated – but not too much caffeine
Reward yourself when you’ve done a big task. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get everything done.
And – I know it’s a bit quirky – even if you are working from home, you can walk or cycle to work and back home again at the end of the day. I try to walk a mile before work, and the same at the end of the day. It helps focus my mind before I start and to unwind at the end.
And if you want to plan a fireworks display to mark the day you finally emerge from your own lockdown… you know where to come! Because we’ll have done all the office work and we’ll be ready to help you celebrate!