Learn how to optimize the Canon XSi/450D for a fireworks scene
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For Firework Pictures, what I would recommend doing, it’s pretty easy. I’d recommend using the Manual Mode. Now, that may seem a little bit frightening at first but it’s really quite simple. Go ahead and first of all change your mode dial to “M” for manual. The reason why we want to use Manual and not any of the other creative modes is because this is going to allow us to change both the shutter and the aperture.
I don’t want to use time value or shutter priority because even though I’m interested in controlling the shutter speed, I don’t want the camera to look at a very dark sky and choose a very wide aperture creating a shallow depth of the field. I want all the fireworks to be in focus so on both a small aperture and the long exposure.
The next thing with the lens, I would recommend using manual focus. It’s just going to be a lot easier. You’re not going to have to deal with the focus so just move the switch over to “MF” to indicate manual focus.
Now here, you’re going to want to change your focusing ring to Infinity. The fireworks are at enough of a distance where you know that infinity should be just fine. Now, you can see back here, it says manual focus. And my mode is set to “M” for manual.
Now, let’s go ahead and set up the White Balance and ISO. White balance should be set to Day Light. If it is not, press the “WB” or White Balance button right here and with the left and right navigation buttons, choose Day Light. This will get you the best colors out of the fireworks. Go ahead and press Set.
ISO, that button is located up here by your index finger so just press that and go ahead and choose 100. Use the Up and Down navigation buttons and go with 100. That’s going to get you the best smoothest colors with as little image noise as possible. And that’s exactly what we want.
Next thing, you’ll see that my shutter speed is highlighted and these errors indicate that I can use this dial by my index finger to change that value. So, I’m going to do that. I want to go with two seconds for now. This is a good starting point for fireworks. It should be long enough because again we are dealing with very bright subjects but it is a dark sky. So, two seconds will get us that kind of a string effect as the fireworks move.
The aperture you want to set by pressing the AV button right here. And while you’re pressing that with your index finger, move the dial to increase the aperture. You can go up to F10. You can try even higher settings and see what you like. The higher the better but remember the higher the smaller the aperture opening. And two seconds may no longer be enough if you go too high. So, you don’t want to go too high so keep it at about F10, F13, 14 is fine.
Once those settings have been set, remember this is a long shutter speed so you have to use a tripod. You’re not going to be able to hand hold this shot, set the tripod in a tripod mount, look through the view finder to compose the image. Now, because timing is of the essence with this picture, you’re going to want to hold the camera very, very gently. You can’t really use a Timer Mode because you don’t’ know when the fireworks is going to explode so you want to wait for that explosion and press the Shutter button as soon as it happens. So, make sure you hold the camera very gently and don’t let go of the camera because that will cause the camera to shake. So, just hold it very, very gently and very steadily.
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