Friday, July 1, 2011

{Photography} "Sparkling" Tips from Cara

Photo credit: PBS

Growing up, I didn't know a single kid who didn't look forward to waving around sparklers during Independence Day weekend.  Well, except me.  I was terrified.  Seriously?   You want me to hold a flaming object that close to my flesh?  I think not.  I didn't care who told me that those teeny tiny little sparks would not hurt me.  I kept my distance.  As an adult, I'm still a little wary of anything on fire that's close to my body.  (I had a run-in with a small rogue firework that ended up in me having a bloody fat-lip two weeks before my wedding... ah, but that's a different post for a different time.) 

This Fourth of July, I'll be staying safe & just taking pictures of those brave souls who choose to chance death & play with fire.  I've always wanted to learn how to take great photos of  fireworks & sparklers-- lucky for me, I was able to find a fantastic tutorial  from Celebration Sparklers with easy to follow steps on how to capture that "spark" in pictures.

 (images courtesy of celebration sparklers)

"Sparklers make great photo opportunities, using a camera with a slow shutter speed you can draw with sparklers in the air and the pattern will appear in the pictures as a sparkly trail. Thinner lines can be created by moving the sparklers very quickly, thicker lines by moving the sparklers more slowly. You will need a manual camera or a digital camera with a nighttime setting, a tripod or other stable surface, a dark setting and a group of friends.
If you'd just like to see the drawing made with the sparklers, don't use your flash. If you'd like to get your friends in the picture use a rear curtain flash setting, which means the flash will fire just before the end of the exposure, or if you're camera doesn't have that setting use the flash manually or a separate light source, a quick flash of a bright flash light works well.

You'll need to find a dark location away from any light sources and a stable location for your camera, either a tripod or a table work well. Your camera will need to be set to either full manual or nighttime exposure mode.
  1. Set your camera on a stable surface and turn it on.
  2. Make sure there are no other light sources around.
  3. Hand out the sparklers and let your friends practice drawing and writing with them.
  4. Once everyone's figured out what they'll be drawing, get them in place, let them know how long the exposure will be and light the sparklers at the same time (butane lighters work best for this).
  5. Have everyone start drawing with their sparklers and then take the picture.
  6. If you'll be using a flash let everyone know just before the flash so they can be ready and smiling.
  7. After taking the picture review it and decide what to adjust. If the picture isn't quite right keep trying. You're only limited by the number of sparklers you have."

This would be a fabulous photo opportunity for those evening family picnics, get-togethers & parties.  See how creative you can be this Independence Day!  We'd love to see what you come up with & capture!  Have a wonderfully fun (& safe!) Fourth of July!!

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