Making fireworks photos with your point-and-shoot camera
You don't need a professional DSLR camera to make colorful, creative images using slow shutter speeds.
This night time-exposure image, showing the Reflections of Earth fireworks show, was shot at 3 seconds at f/8, ISO 80, on a Canon s90 Powershot pocket point-n-shoot camera, Friday, June 15, 2012, during a visit to the Epcot theme park at Disney World. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel) (Joe Burbank / June 21, 2012)
All the photos you see here were shot on a pocket camera, a Canon s90 Powershot --at night in low light conditions-- using shutter speeds ranging from 2 to 15 seconds. I was careful to stabilize the camera on whatever surfaces were available, without a tripod. The end result is a kind of painting-with-light effect, an altered perspective boasting super-saturated colors, surreal light bursts and unusual blurs.
• Click here for some examples from last weekend of point-n-shoot time-exposures at night.
Here are five tips to help in successfully shooting time-exposures on a pocket camera:
1) Find a slow-shutter setting on your point-n-shoot -- sometimes called "Fireworks," "Low Light" or "Night Scene." If your camera has manual shutter speeds, the slower the better.
2) Set your ISO to it's lowest setting, usually 80 or 100. This may sound like contradictory advice, since ISO determines how sensitive your camera reacts to light; a lower number usually means your are shooting brighter, day-lit scenes. But the lower ISO --in addition to producing better color and quality-- will force your camera's shutter speed to slow down, which is a good thing for time-exposures.
3) Turn off the flash. Again, that might sound confusing since it's a night scene. But remember, in time-exposures you are using the available, ambient light to illuminate your scene, not the camera's flash.
4) Stabilize your camera. No need to lug around a tripod, just makes sure your camera is perfectly still on whatever surface you can find. A wall; the top of a car; the ground; whatever works as long as your camera has zero movement.
5) Set your camera to self-timer. Not to be confused with the shutter speed setting, the self-timer tells the camera to fire on a delay after you push the button. This can be crucial in minimizing blurring caused by vibration or shaking of the camera during a long exposure.
Finally, the most important tip for attempting point-n-shoot, night time-exposures: Have fun!
Joe Burbank is a staff photographer for the Orlando Sentinel. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow the Sentinel photo staff on Twitter @OSPhoto. Like us on Facebook: Orlando Sentinel Photography.