Friday, June 28, 2013

July 4 Fireworks and the Canon Powershot G15

Some people would think that they need an expensive DSLR to shoot fireworks. I say, "No, all you need is a tripod! And a chance to control shutter speed and aperture value..."

See, I've been saying for a long time now that, unless you shoot professionally, the Canon Powershot G15 is all you need! And this includes shooting fireworks. (And I've been saying for a long time now also that you should not ditch your point-and-shoot for your camera phone.)

You see, with the Canon Powershot G15, you have the ability to control both the Aperture Value (Av) and Shutter Speed (Tv - for Time Value). And that's essentially all the control that you need to photograph fireworks! This is because you need to open up the camera a long time so that you get the streaks of light when fireworks explode.

And, of course, with the sensor exposed for extended seconds, you need to stabilize your camera, or else your photo will be shaky. No amount of image stabilization will help you when you open the sensor up for longer than 1/5 of a second or longer.

And now that you have your G15 and your tripod, the next thing that you should have is a remote trigger. Why would you need that? Well, steadying the camera and the tripod is the first step. However, if you touch the camera itself to take the photo, then you will make the camera move! If the camera is fired via a remote, then the camera will be steady while the shot is being taken - just don't pull the remote...

(Alternatively, you can use the camera's timer to trigger it. The only problem with this is, you will have to fire the camera before the firework explodes, otherwise your shot will be late.)

And finally, if you want some pointers on how to shoot fireworks, well, it really is not that complicated.

  • First, you should find out where the fireworks will be displayed. Normally, there will be a test fire so take note of that.
  • Set the camera to Manual Exposure: this will give you the ability to independently set the Av and the Tv.
  • Then, set your camera on Manual Focus and set the focus at infinity: the fireworks will be far away, right?
  • Next, set a small aperture opening, something from f/4 or smaller so that majority of the scene is in focus. (Note that, because of the smaller sensor, you don't need to set the aperture at a very small setting. If I'm using a DSLR, I set an aperture value of f/16 or smaller.)
  • Set your time at 1/10 of a second or longer. The long exposure time will give you the nice trails of the fireworks display. If your shot is over- or under-exposed, then adjust the shutter speed accordingly. And that's it!

Just note that the G15 aperture value maxes out at f/8 and the shutter speed cannot be longer than 15s...

So, what are you waiting for? Get the gear that will enable you to shoot the July 4 fireworks! ☺


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