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New Year’s Eve is a night of celebration, whether you are at a crowded party with tons of people or spending an intimate night with family and friends. It’s a time to have fun and make your first memories of the New Year. Here are some tips to take your photos to the next level.
Try not to use your flash. If you’re shooting people at a party, not only will it distract everyone, but the flash will blow them out. It’s best to work with what you have, and take advantage of the ambient lighting. It’s also important to consider the lighting when shooting indoors – you may need to adjust your white balance to fluorescent or tungsten.
Have fun with your photos. Switch up your angles to create interesting compositions. It’s New Year’s Eve—there's no better opportunity than this! Take your photos to the next level with different angles. Shoot from the hip (or even lower), from above the crowd, or even a Dutch tilt (tilting your camera to one side). The great thing about digital photography is that you can take tons of photos and review them as you go. Dare to be different, don’t shoot the same compositions as everyone else – the people you’re shooting will be stoked that you did.
The key to shooting fireworks is to be as still as possible since you’ll be using longer shutter speeds. It’s best to use a tripod and a cable release. If you don’t have either, or just don’t want to lug around a tripod, you can try and find a place to rest your camera or find of way to sturdy yourself – it’s not ideal, but do what you can with what you have.
You’ll also want to consider the white balance. Set your camera to tungsten. You’ll most likely be shooting at night, and the fireworks themselves will be warm colors. If you find your photos look too warm, just adjust your white balance accordingly. Don’t panic if you don’t notice your photos are too warm or too cold until after; you can always edit them with ACDSee.
I recommend selecting Shutter Priority (TV or S) and the longest shutter speed. Most DSLRs' longest shutter speed is 30” (30 seconds). However, just after 30” is bulb mode (bulb or b). Bulb mode allows you to take a photo for as long as the shutter button is depressed. This means the camera will keep taking a picture until your finger comes off the shutter button. This is when a cable release comes in handy, so you don’t have to stand there with your finger on the button.
For your aperture setting, a good place to start is f/11. Try a few shots, and from there, adjust your aperture—the higher the number, the smaller the opening, and the lower the number, the wider the opening. Additionally, set your ISO between 100 to 400 and avoid using the ISO auto setting. Remember, the higher the ISO, the more noise in your photos.
Fireworks are colorful and fun, as your photos should be. Try to avoid taking shots of just fireworks against a black sky—give your photos context. If you’re near water, use the reflection on the water in your shot. Or shoot with the city skyline in the background. Or even switch up the angle and shoot from the hip and include people.
Happy New Year and happy shooting!