In this blog post I’m going to show you how to take epic sparkler exit photos at weddings! A couple of weeks ago I shared my 5 Must-Have Camera Accessories for Wedding Photographers and received a lot of questions about the Joby GorillaPod Tripod, particularly how I use it for sparkler exits.
“I am very interested in how you will use the Joby to light the exit instead of using your second photographer and light stand. Will you just place it on the ground?” – Danielle with Artful Documentary Photography
I love this question so much! The short answer is yes, I place it on the ground, a couple of feet behind the couple. Personally, I don’t like the look of a super bright flash on a sparkler exit photo, however, I do feel that it needs a little bit of extra light in order for the subjects to pop off the background. Otherwise they would look too dull. So, with that being said, I prefer my flash to be lower to the ground, and by placing it a few feet behind the couple, it gives me a much softer look while allowing me to separate my subject from the background.
Settings & Equipment
In addition to the external flash on my Joby GorillaPod Tripod, I also attach a flash on top of my camera and use a diffuser to soften the light. My favorite diffuser is the MagMod Diffuser.
Settings wise, I like to set my ISO at 2000, Shutter Speed between 160-250, and Aperture between f/2.0-f/2.8 depending on the lens I’m shooting with. I also make sure to use continuous autofocus so that I can hold down my back button focus and take as many shots as I can while the couple is walking towards the camera. If you’re new to back button focus, make sure to read this blog post: 3 Reasons Why I Switched to Back Button Focus.
Direct the Couples & Guests
While everyone is getting ready for the sparkler exit, I usually go up to the couple and ask them to walk slowly when they come out, and also to stop and kiss half way through. This is key to making sure that you capture some amazing wedding sparkler exit shots! Once outside, I also ask the guests to close in behind the couple so that they fill the entire scene with sparklers. It makes for some extra fun sparkler photos!
1/200 sec at f/2.8, ISO 2000
Pro Tip! Optional shot: have the bride and groom hold the sparklers for some extra fun photos!
(no background flash)
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