Pro Tip – Capturing Fireworks Step By Step

New Year’s Eve is a unique opportunity to photograph one of the most beautiful moments of the year. Record something enchanted, from local traditions to joyful faces during celebrations to fireworks. This article covers the steps, techniques, and tips required to record and photograph fireworks in high-quality.

 

Step 1 – Determine Your End Goal

First, decide why you want to shoot fireworks. Knowing what you want to accomplish helps you organize for the shoot. Are you posting on social media, making a documentary, or planning to sell the footage for the stock? Each application has different visual requirements and will determine the type of equipment and preparation needed.

 

Step 2 – Plan the Production

 

  • Timing is key– Plan your shoot carefully and give yourself enough time to set up the tripod, camera, etc.
  • Do your research – Search Pond5 and then sort by popularity to see the top shots. You can also check Google, YouTube, and social media for viral posts to see why they went viral and see if something is inspiring to set the stage for your shoot.
  • Scout a location – Look up different venues hosting a fireworks display in your area. Choose one that interests you and provides a clear view of the show. Since you’ll be sitting there for some time, it should be a place where you feel at ease. You can check Google Earth to see access points and get a sense of what the location looks like in advance. Also, you can look for other places nearby that may give you a better view or at least a unique perspective.
  • Consider your vantage point – Check to see if a high-rise hotel is close to the fireworks, where you can book a room and shoot from the balcony. Survey your surroundings. Look for a hill or mountain a couple of miles away that may give a much larger scope to the fireworks. Lastly, get to your location early to set up!
  • Overall Composition – Fireworks with the blank sky in the background are useful as a source for layered photos and footage. However, if you intend to use it differently, look for a location with foreground objects, such as buildings, hillsides, or trees, at the very least to add additional visual elements. Otherwise, the results may look a bit plain. Having people in the foreground is also an option, but you must count on blurred movement as the sensor captures light longer.
  • Check the weather – You can not control the weather, and in the winter, it could spoil a celebration. However, it is feasible to set off fireworks in the rain, so if you are determined, don’t discount this issue, pack your belongings appropriately, and adequately protect yourself and the equipment!

 

A Sea Of Fireworks Explode Through The City Of Los Angeles by Lmprods.

Step 3 – Gear to Pack

 

  • Tripod – ​​Using a tripod is important but set the drag loose to give you the ability to pan and swivel.
  • Several lenses – Don’t count on one or two lenses. Start wide, but using a telephoto or wide telephoto to capture the details is excellent too. Use different frame settings based on your goal.
  • Flashlight/headlamp – Remember, you’re filming in low light. Bring a flashlight or, ideally, a headlamp.
  • Stay comfortable – Take care of yourself and those around you during the shoot. Bring some chairs, snacks, and enough water, and keep yourself warm!
  • Consider the weather – Pack rain protection for yourself and your camera if the forecast looks uncertain.
  • Batteries/Battery Chargers – You don’t want your camera to die while taking your amazing shots!
  • Cleaning Supplies– Make sure to pack some wipes or a microfiber cloth for easy cleaning in case your lens or camera gets dirty!
  • Memory cards –
  • Camera Remote – If your camera has a remote, pack it to reduce shaky hands while taking photos or videos!

 

Step 4 – The Best Camera Settings For Shooting Fireworks

You need to set up your camera for low-light filming. Most of the general rules apply here as well. If you’re photographing, don’t forget to shoot in Raw so you can better play with the image in post-production software later.

Read advice from Olympus and Nikon on how to capture brilliant fireworks photos, or check out the tips in this 4-minute-long video from Jeven Dovey on setting the camera.

 

Step 5 – Shooting

Action! The big day is here. Since you have a limited time to capture your shots, we recommend using techniques you find comfortable. Try to find out the launch location of the fireworks.

  • Panning left and right – Check your surroundings and ensure you have enough space for setting up and shooting. Add in more elbow room if necessary!
  • Exposure experiments< – Remember, the longer your exposure, the longer the trails of lights that will be visible.
  • Composition – There’s nothing wrong with shooting fireworks against the clear sky. High-quality shots have their place in the overall demand among video editors but if you don’t intend to sell your footage as a source for other use in editing (such as layering the fireworks in additional footage), then consider the foreground objects.
  • Speed experimentation – Slow motion gives you beautiful moody shots, while real-time is more authentic. Play with the settings!
  • PRO TIP: Shoot the entire show on a separate camera – Bring another camera with a wide lens and shoot timelapse or real-time footage of the whole fireworks show. The backup allows you the freedom to constantly change settings with your primary camera.
  • Aerial footage – Drone footage is also an option. If the local laws allow, a drone gives another perspective of the show and a competitive advantage over other sellers.
  • 360/VR footage – Don’t forget 360 cameras! If you find the right spot and you’re able to secure a clear image, it’s another competitive advantage.

 

Aerial Colorful Fireworks In Night City Sky Bright Holiday Celebrations Party by TaigaShots.

 

Step 6 – Post-production

A lot of things can be enhanced or fixed in post-production. Here’s the list of elements you can play with:

  • White balance – Experiment with the temperature and tint sliders to find your favorite colors. Fireworks don’t have a usual “correct” color, so you can change the white balance to whatever you want. You could also utilize the foreground objects you provided as a guide to figure out what is realistic regarding color.
  • Basic controls – Exposure and contrast, luminance, saturation, darkening shadows, and blacks are all controls you can adjust. Keep in mind that the outcome should be natural and vivid, not overexposed or unnaturally saturated. Being gentle is key.
  • Clarity, sharpening, and texture – Use these gently. It may help to make the fireworks pop out even more!
  • Clipping – If you have continuous long footage, find the most exciting moments, clip them, and export and upload them separately.

 

Step 7 – The Metadata Work/Uploading to Pond5

Congratulations! You’ve just exported your stunning work! Now it’s time to sell it. To make sales, you have to think of the marketing part too!

  • Refer back to your research on Pond5 – See what keywords other artists use with similar photos and footage when sorting the results by popularity.
  • Concepts – Don’t forget to add keywords as we get closer to the other events, holidays, and anniversaries that typically feature fireworks displays, such as the 4th of July, etc. Please read our guide to keywords for more information.
  • Metadata – Choose the proper descriptive titles and descriptions to help our algorithm push your content to the top of the results.
  • Create a collection – Create a collection of your photos and footage and share the link to your social media networks. Here’s a guide on how to make a collection.
  • Earn referral incomeGet even more revenue with our Referral Program. You’ll earn a commission on every new buyer you introduce to Pond5, no matter what they buy!
  • Maximize your earning potential – Join the  Pond5 Exclusive Video Artist Program for an industry-leading 60% royalty share. Not only will you maximize the value of your work, but you’ll also save time by uploading to just one platform. And if you combine it with the referral program, you can get up to 90% revenue share!

Top Image: Sparkling Celebration Fireworks New York City Manhattan Skyline With Skyscrap by photovs

Contributor Tips: What to Create This Month (and What to Avoid)

Artists, are you looking for inspiration for your Pond5 portfolio? Do you feel like creating something new and different? Or are you just wondering what would make our curators happy? Read on to find out what kinds of content we’re currently saturated with, and what we’d like to have more of in our collection.

Video: Go Beyond the Ducks

Ducks in ponds are pretty to look at, easy to shoot, and found in abundance in our library. Unless you manage to capture something truly unique — a rare breed or an action that’s interesting or funny — this type of footage isn’t likely to stand out among all the other similar content we have. Because of that, we’ve decided to scale back on how many Donalds and Daffys we’re adding to the collection.

Wild Ducks by Palomnik

We still love wildlife clips, but we encourage contributors to think strategically about the specific footage you’re shooting. It’s easy to go to the park and start filming — anyone can do it, so many, many people do. However, other varieties of birds are still highly sought-after, and we would love to see more of those.

Footage of birds of prey or woodland birds (and other wildlife) in their natural habitats is much rarer and highly encouraged. Here’s an example of a European robin singing — both the image and the audio are very well captured, and it highlights unique behavior of a wild bird in its environment. This particular video has been very popular, and we would love to see more examples of footage like this from artists like you.

Robin Singing in a Tree by wildwatertv

Music: 2016, The Year of Brazil

With this year’s Summer Olympics happening in Brazil, we’re on the lookout for authentic Brazilian music. Try your hand at samba, bossa nova, sertanejo, pagode, tropicalia, and lambada. Experiment with lots of percussion and nylon-string guitars. Go for the gold!

Get inspired by this tune:

Viva Brazil by Porrazzo

Meanwhile, upbeat, poppy tracks featuring ukulele are a staple of advertising these days. So if you search on Pond5 for “ukulele” you’ll be confronted with over 7,000 results, which is probably 6,990 more than you’ll ever want to listen to. If you’re absolutely dead-set on using your uke, try creating some authentic Hawaiian-style tunes to round out our portfolio. Throw some slack-key guitar on there, record it in a hammock, and make yourself a tropical drink!

Listen to a great example:

Waikiki Serenade by heaven

After Effects: Keep an Eye on the Calendar

AE templates that animate 2D graphics into 3D are a great and easy way to improve your logos. But right now we already have 2,640 of these, so most of the styles and treatments are starting to turn out similar. As a result, we’ve been stricter in curating these. They’re still very much welcome, but try to step it a notch and show us something that’s never been done yet.

3D Glossy Logo on Textured Background by artdesign

We rarely get templates focused on events, holidays, and seasonal themes, like Graduation, Ramadan, St. Patrick’s Day, and Awards Ceremonies. In fact, we only have eight templates spotlighting the 4th of July so far! So if you’re running out of ideas, take a look at your calendar, see which holidays are there, and create an AE template to go with it!

4th of July Photo Montage by MagicalGraphicsDesign

Photos: Shopping Made Real

Shopping is one of the world’s most popular activities — everybody loves bags full of new clothes. That’s most probably why we have so many women with shopping bags in our collection (mostly on white backgrounds). We’re still looking for people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds with their catches though — local feel is always a benefit!

061314020-happy-young-woman-shopping-bag

Happy Young Woman With Shopping Bags by bluejeanimages

Try heading to the nearest shop and capturing some images of real shopping. If you have a bunch of models, maybe they could be a family? They can choose the best product together, try on new shoes, or pay at the counter. These images will be super useful for e-shops and stores all over the world.

Grocery store shopping - Woman with child in a supermarket choosing bread

Grocery Store Shopping by CBIProduction

Illustrations: From Abstract to Concrete

Abstract backgrounds are popular, but also plentiful in our illustration collection — that’s why we generally discourage artists from concentrating on this sort of artwork too much for their submissions. (We still appreciate a good one when we see it, though!) Modern geometric backgrounds with trendy color schemes like this one are still very much welcome:

Abstract geometric background full vector

Abstract Geometric Background by Orkidia

If you’re building a portfolio of backgrounds, try dipping a toe into the creation of illustrated seamless patterns. They’re amazingly flexible to use — a funky pattern can be the star of the show, or just a supportive element in someone’s final design.

Hand drawn baking seamless pattern, muffins with chocolate, jam and raisins, Retro pencil food illustration on polka dot background

Hand Drawn Baking Muffins Seamless Pattern by Depiano

Stay tuned for more tips on what to (and not to) submit in the near future. In the meantime, have fun creating!

Top image: Eastern Bluebirds by SteveByland