5 Tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

practicalities - Vietnam: May 23, 2014

With Tet Festival just around the corner and fireworks displays in the works in the major city centres in Vietnam, we thought it best to give you some pointers on fireworks photography. This type of photography is very technical but we have to broken it down to you in five easy steps. The fireworks displays are organized annually as part of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. When the clock strikes midnight on February 9th, 2013, fireworks displays lasting up to 15 minutes will be fired up throughout the country. Therefore, be prepared for capturing these endless moments.

Bring a tripod

Getting those streaky light bursts takes long exposure times and can be tricky to take if you don’t have a sturdy tripod. If you don’t have a tripod handy, look for a place to set down your camera. You probably won’t get the flexibility that the tripod has but at least you’ll get the shot.

Local insight: Don’t try to hand hold the camera. All you will get are shaky images

Location, location and location

Once the fireworks show starts, you aren’t going to have the time to move around. Start looking for a spot early and try to find one with an unobstructed view of the sky. Also, be careful of crowds as it will be dark and they could knock into your tripod.

Local insight: Try getting higher than the crowd. Hotels, rooftop bars and the like are great vantage points.

Frame your shot

Shots of fireworks are boring unless you have some context behind them. Is there a famous building in the distance that could lend a frame of reference for the viewer? Also, is there anything in frame that can block the fireworks display?

Local insight: Try to get an unobstructed view of the rocket’s launch.

Go Manual

Play with your settings to get it right. Keep an aperture to f/8, focus to infinity (look for the double helix symbol on your lens) and use the lowest ISO your camera has to offer. The shutter speed will usually be the only variable in this equation.

Local insight: If you want to shoot multiple rockets exploding, use the Bulb setting.

Use your LCD screen

The best aspect of digital photography is the instant review of your image. Never is this more relevant than in this type of photography. After each shot, take a look at the image and adjust your camera settings accordingly.

Local insight: Don’t rely on the histogram to review exposures of this type.

I hope we have given you some great tips to make better fireworks photos!

Photo by: phatfreemiguel

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