While on our road trip cross-country we stopped in to visit my family in Maryland. It was so great to spend some time with them and enjoy an amazing dinner of crawfish etouffee. I’ve really missed my Mom’s cooking while in Colorado so it was awesome that she was willing to cook us up a batch.
Besides enjoying some good food and great company we also took some time to play with a few fireworks including sparklers! Which was when Steve mentioned that it’d be really cool to take some sparkler pictures. If only we had a fancy camera… Oh but Steve, of course I brought my camera with me on our trip! And my tripod! We could totally try out some pictures. SWEET. So here’s a few we did before my camera died. It was so much fun.
Last year I posted a few tips about taking firework pictures and the same basic ideas apply for sparkler pictures. You’ll need a tripod or at least a flat surface that you can rest your camera on. Next you’ll want to frame your shot so you know where to start writing and where to end so it doesn’t get cut off. These were done just as the sun was setting but the darker it is, the less you’ll be able to see the motion of the person holding the sparkler. So if possible, wait till the sun has completely set. That being said, I still think these came out really cool. If I had thought about it a smaller shutter opening [aka a higher f/stop] would have probably made the background darker. For these I used f/3.5, ISO 200 and left the shutter open for 20 seconds. This combination worked well for us. You’ll have to play around to see what works best for you but just like the firework pictures, I highly recommend using the lowest ISO you can. It will decrease the amount of noise in your pictures. You can leave the shutter open longer or shorter depending on how dark it is. I found that 30 seconds was too much time and less then 20 seconds you had to move faster to get your word in.
As far as the best technique for writing? We found that writing with our backs towards the camera was easiest. It meant you didn’t have to try to remember how to write backwards. Or if you forget, like I did in the picture below, you can always flip the picture post production. In the second picture, the one that reads ‘Steve’, my husband did it and he went extremely slow and deliberate. This is why his lines are really thick. The scribbles above I did and pretty much just danced around some purple firework that was going off so the lines are thinner and have a more layered look. And then love below was really fast. Each technique is interesting and just depends on the look you want.It took us about two or three tries to get the settings right. Also if you try doing the same drawing over and over it’ll just turn into a giant scribble ball so it’s best just to try to spell something right the first time. I recommend just having fun with it and seeing what crazy things you can come up with and before the end of the night you’ll have some fun shots.
Have you taken any night shots lately? I think it is one of my favorite types of photography to mess around with. It’ll be fun experimenting with some of the city in the background!