Diwali or Deepavali is regarded to be one of the five most-celebrated festivals of India. It is the festival of lights and marks the triumph of good over evil. During the 3 main days, the entire country seems to come alive and shine in brilliant colours. Vivid lanterns spread a kaleidoscope of colours outside windows and along street avenues. Oil lamps placed outside doors flicker through the night, spreading the warmth of the festive mood. A majestic display of fireworks seems to paint the sky in a medley of colours. Rangolis reflect the happiness that lies in the hearts of their creators. People choose to wear new clothes in vibrant colours, and distribute sweets and dry fruits. ‘Tis a time to indulge, and thank the Goddess of wealth for all her bounty, and seek blessings for a year full of prosperity and good fortune.
Diwali is a shutterbug’s delight. And if you’re one who loves uploading and sharing selfies and pictures that speak a thousand words, you’ll need a little more than just enthusiasm to capture the best of this festival. To begin with, you’ll need basic skills of operating your camera and making it work for you. Then, if you are someone who settles for nothing but the best, you’ll need some equipment. And lastly, you’ll have to be patient to wait for that right moment – when the lighting is adequate, or when all the people have kept their eyes open, or when the flaming fountain of sparks from a Roman Candle has reached its maximum height. We’ve put down a list of things to help you capture the stunning colours of Diwali – all the beautiful lights and sights that will make for a jaw-dropping and share-worthy picture.
1# Carry a tripod with you
Once you get down to using it, you’ll discover why professionals don’t move around without one. Just when the lighting, camera angle and expressions of people are all perfect, you don’t want the image to be blurred because your hand shook by a millimeter. A picture-perfect moment may just come and go by without ever repeating itself in all aspects, so you certainly don’t want to spend time and energy trying to stage it all over again, knowing that it won’t be as good as the first time around. You also don’t want to upload and share pictures that are blurred. Whether you wish to capture long exposures or timelapses, make sure you have your trusty tripod. We’re referring to Manfrotto here. You can even go a step further and get yourself a remote release device that helps you take shots without touching your camera. Steadiness is the key word.
2# Picture composition
Next, let’s talk about picture composition. Whether you want to capture the display of fireworks in the sky or the diyas on the ground, framing is the key to capturing a perfect shot. The beauty of this festival of lights is that you can capture it in vertical or horizontal orientation. You’ll also have to anticipate the right time when a firecracker will explode, or when a rocket would leave a trail as it shoots up the sky.
3# Capturing fireworks
While capturing fireworks in camera, use a low ISO like 100 or 200 for many reasons, such as reducing the level of noise during long exposures. Set your camera to manual mode for exposure and your aperture to f5.6 or f8. You don’t want those light trails to be overexposed. The shutter speed ideally needs to be between 2 and 10 seconds – and in any case under 30 seconds. For you to become an old hand at this, you’ll need to take a few test shots before you actually start capturing those fireworks the way you want them. Focus beforehand and turn the autofocus function off if you have found a spot to capture the fireworks in the sky. This way, it doesn’t require you to refocus on the people in the frame.
You can use a neutral density filter for longer exposure. The sky may still have some light and an ND filter will allow you to get a longer exposure. This is if you wish to capture more bursts per image and images that don’t look short or stocky.
Other things you’d need to keep in mind for capturing fireworks is to start early on in the evening, as it will get hazy in the later part with all that smoke. Experiment with telephoto shots, close-ups of people celebrating, or just table-top photography which would include capturing some mouthwatering sweets and other Indian delicacies. Also, while capturing photos, make sure to turn off the live view on your camera and have spare batteries handy to shoot without interruptions.
While these tips can help you click the best shots, don’t forget to experiment by yourself and share the results with us on our social media channels.
Stay safe and wish you all a very Happy Diwali!
Photo credit Dheeraj Paul.