Photographing Sparklers

I'm not an expert at this, in fact I am as novice as novice can be at using the manual settings on my dSLR. Something in my brain fails to comprehend all the technicalities and as soon as I've remembered what ISO is, I've forgotten about aperture. My poor husband sits and patiently explains it to me over and over again while I hold my head hoping to keep the information in, but it all just seeps out.

Thank God my Canon has an amazing selection of automatic settings.

However as good as it is, it can't photograph sparklers properly. Especially not if you want to write with them (like @babberblog did).

And this is where several amazingly tolerant people and twitter came in handy last night. Thanks to this post on the Tots100 by the ├╝ber clever Becky, I found out the settings that I needed to use to photograph moving sparklers. But then on my EOS 300D there's about eleventy billion manual settings which confused me even more than I thought possible. So I took to twitter sobbing and found in my favourites a tweet from the fabulous @Doobietots (who is a bit of a wizz at photographing things at night) who had gone to the trouble of finding an online manual for my camera.

Out we traipsed onto the patio for The Boy's first ever experience of sparklers, which is where I managed to take these. (The top one is the first sparkler lit, hence the delight on his face as he'd never seen one before)

long exposure photography

We had so much fun drawing patterns and writing our names in the air, The Boy's face was an absolute delight all the way through; sparklers are such magical things!

Settings I used to photograph sparklers: ISO = 100, aperture = f/11, exposure = 20 seconds.

(Becky has since suggested an external flash set off in the last second before the lens closes would freeze The Boy's movements and effectively 'over-ride' any other movements he has made.)

After I'd uploaded them onto the computer and The Boy had gone to bed, I realised that the photos I'd taken with more than one word written were difficult to read because it was all joined. I had a brainwave from a tweet that @cakesphotoslife had sent me about using black card over the lens during the shot to black out additional light. I decided to try it over the lens when I'd got to the end of writing a word in order to create a space, and enlisted Mr. TBaM's help.

(For a while all you could hear from the patio was, "Now! Now!" and thinking on it now, I'm sure the neighbours thought something dodgy was going on!)

Anyway, five sparklers later and this was the end result.

long exposure photography

What do you think?

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  1. says

    That is brilliant! I've got a bridge camera and I don't understand it. I am trying to play with some settings other than auto at the moment though I doubt I could get mine to do that. They really are great.

  2. says

    Where would I be without my beloved Canaon. I LOVE IT! We bought it as a present to ourselves when Dexter was born, so we could capture all the memories. Best purchase so far as we've had so much use out of it x

  3. says

    oh my god that is amazing!!!


    Imagine if someone did this with 'will you marry me?' it would be amazing!

    I love this – i want to do it!!

    I want to write – 'Next time you break the boiler i will atually throttle you.' I think it would look really special!


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