How to photograph fireworks in Disneyland
I posted a great image of the Disney Illumination show the other week on my social media and I got some great responses and questions from people asking me how I created the shot without a tripod.
We decided to travel to Paris, France more or less on a whim. We booked the trip on Monday and went on Thursday. My girlfriend Maaike came up with the idea and we decided why not? Working in the studio all day usually doesn’t gets me super excited to bring my big Canon 5DSR camera, that’s why I got the Fuji XT-10 for traveling. The camera is super compact and relatively low-end, but does create amazing images because it shares the sensor with the more high-end Fuji cameras. Disneyland Paris rather has you not bring any tripods or other ‘extension gear’, so I had to shoot it handholding. To be honest, I didn’t expect the shots to turn out this amazing!
In the blogpost I’ll explain step by step what I did.
Setting up for the show
Before the show starts, you want to make sure you’ve got your exposure dialed in so you can start concentrating on the fireworks and enjoy the show. The show started at sunset, so there isn’t going to be a bunch of ambient light. That’s obviously good for the actual fireworks, but we as photographers and our camera too need some light to focus and work with. That’s why we are going to set it all up before the show and have a great canvas to start shooting the fireworks with.
I set my camera to Manual mode and decided to expose it so you can still see the castle, but barely. My settings here were 1/15th of a second with an aperture of F10 and ISO 6400. The Fuji XT-10 has the ability to tilt the display on the back of the camera, so I was able to hold it up high and still see what I was doing which helped me zoom and frame the shot the way I liked.
When the show starts, it’s best to focus during the animations on the castle without the fireworks. The autofocus will not hack it when there’s a lot of stuff happening.. I tried to focus during the fireworks, but that was an avenue not worth traveling.
The other thing you’ll need during shooting the fireworks is patience… Wait for the firework to go up, don’t spray and pray.. Why? Because of autofocus! Wait for the firework to go up and take the shot when it looks great.
The image below is shot too early…
Lighting and sharpness
The light of the fireworks will light your shot and the intensity of the light will freeze the motion. I am definitely not know for having the most steady hand and I don’t think I have a single shot with motion blur. Just make sure you pre-focus and hold that shutter button half pressed and ready to fire when the shot looks the best on your display. Fairly easy and great results!
Don’t forget to enjoy the show too!
I think I took around 30 images in 20 minutes during the show.. You’ll be more than fine, if you found your dose of patience. I think I have around 15 okay shots and half a dozen great ones.
So next time you’re in Disney or want to shoot a massive firework show, this is the way to get some killer shots!
I’d really appreciate it if you let me know your thoughts by leaving me a comment below or send me your results, by tagging me in your shots on Instagram. You can find my account with username maurice_jager
If you’re interested in getting the same gear I used to get these shots, feel free to use the links above to go directly to the pages on Amazon for international readers and Kamera-Express for Dutch and Belgian readers.
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I’ll leave you with this killer shot below.
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