Photography Project – taking photos of a hanabi taikai (fireworks festival)


Photography Project – taking photos of a hanabi taikai (fireworks festival)


Fireworks festivals take place all over Japan every summer.
I went to Ibaraki to take photos of the Furukawa Hanabi Taikai (Furukawa Fireworks Festival). The festival is of awesome proportions, with more than 20,000 fireworks projectiles launched.

Not only does the sheer number of projectiles launched baffle the mind; the variety of fireworks is also astounding.


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In contrast with daytime photography, photographing such shows entails lighting that disappears after a certain amount of time. I would like here to give some tips for taking good photos under such conditions.
First of all, use a tripod to avoid blurred photos. A remotely-operated shutter is also useful for this. If you don’t have a remote control handy, you can use the camera’s internal timer.
Next, I would like to talk about ISO (film sensitivity). To reduce noise, the ISO should be as low a value as possible. I used ISO 100. The F-stop value should be 8.0 or higher. By closing the aperture, you increase the depth of field, making it easier to focus in dark environments.
Use manual focus and set the focus during the first few launches. Once the focus is set, minutely adjust the direction of the lens to frame the scene. Set the shutter speed to about 3 to 5 seconds. By setting a slow shutter speed, the light trajectory of the fireworks can better be captured.
The Furukawa Hanabi Festival fireworks show lasts more than an hour and it is accented every so often with a particularly large launch accompanied by boisterous cheers. I have the feeling that there were many fascinating photo opportunities that I missed on the shoot.
For longer shows, it is fun to change the lens and its direction mid-way through. By changing the picture angle and composition, you bring variety to your fireworks photography. I used 70mm and 24mm lenses for this shoot.

Guest blogger: Masanori Sugiura

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