How to: Capture the Festival of Lights
| by Anand Tuliani
Diwali is that one time of the year when you want to capture happy moments, your first rangoli, Laxmi Pooja, diyas, colourful lanterns and dazzling fireworks that keep the skies lit after the sun goes down. What’s most challenging to capture in the festival of lights is ‘ the light’. We’re talking about shooting diyas, lanterns and fireworks – it may seem as simple as pointing the camera and shooting, but in reality, it’s not so. However, if you keep a few things in mind and use correct shooting techniques, then you can get shots that look better than what fireworks look in reality. Here are a few tips that will help you capture brilliant shots of diyas and fireworks, no matter what camera you use.
Tips for shooting diyas
Meter the flame and shoot from odd angles to get great-looking shots of diyas
Understanding the basics
Before we get into light doodling with sparklers or shooting fireworks, it’s important to understand the basics. Picture you’re given a sheet of paper and asked to draw a large circle. You’ll need a few seconds to do so. If you start drawing and stop in a second, you’ll have drawn about a quarter of the circle. In the case of a camera, the sheet of paper is the sensor and the time needed to capture light trails or doodle is controlled by the shutter speed. The slower the shutter speed, the longer will be exposure of the sensor and hence, longer light trails. However, at the same time, you also have to control the ISO and aperture in order to prevent overexposure. Higher ISO speeds boost the sensitivity of the sensor and also increase the noise levels. The aperture is a tiny opening in the lens that controls the amount of light that reaches the sensor. Lower F-stops (for example, F1.8 or F2.0) mean larger apertures and hence, greater the amount of light available to the sensor. Likewise, greater F-stops (for example, F6.3 or F8) mean less amount of light that reaches the sensor. You can check if the combination of ISO, shutter speed and aperture is correct by referring to the camera’s light meter.
If the marker is:
You'll need a camera with full manual controls to experiment with exposure settings
Just to recap and cut things short:
Step 1: Set the desired shutter speed (2 seconds or greater should be fine)
Step 2: Set the ISO to 100 or 200
Step 3: Refer to the camera’s light meter and adjust the aperture such that the exposure is optimal.
Before you shoot...
Now that you know the basics, pull out your shooting weapon and go on a shooting spree. Remember – exposure, timing, practice and creativity are the key!
Here are a few samples for your reference.
Doodling with sparklers! A 5-second shutter with appropriate ISO and aperture should work.
Shaky light trails – This is what you'll get if you shoot fireworks with the camera hand-held
Could have been better – the trails are small because the shutter speed wasn't slow enough
Perfect shot – Shot using tripod and optimal exposure settings
Tags: Diwali 2012 , Diwali photography , shooting fireworks , slow shutter photography , slow shutter , manual mode , shooting diyas , light doodling , photography tips , tips for shooting fireworks , firework preset
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