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Inspirations >> Photos & People

Welcoming the New Year with Colourful Fireworks at Ancol, Indonesia

At every end of year, a lot of people like to spend time outside of their house to feel the joy from the new year celebration. Not only that, the firework shows are their most anticipated event during this event, lighting and colouring the night skies. New year celebrations in Jakarta are usually very festive, with several spots becoming the centre of the celebration. A lot of people from and around of Jakarta would visit these places, to be able to have a glimpse of these fireworks, during their holidays.

EOS 650D, EF40mm f/2.8 STM, f/2.8, 1/20sec, 40mm, ISO1600

This year, I had the chance of visiting Taman Impian Jaya Ancol, Pademangan, Jakarta Utara. Ancol is well known as one of Jakarta’s most popular recreation destination in Jakarta. Multiple entertainments are available, such as beach, playground, swimming pools, and also the art market. As I arrived at Ancol, thousands of people were already filling up every corner. That night provided a different challenge for me, considering the dark night and minimal lighting. With my trusted Canon EOS 650D, and an EF40mm f/2.8 STM lens, I was determined to capture this unique moment. Using an EF40mm f/2.8 STM lens in a crowded situation will test my instincts, as it provides a very narrow field of vision. But that was where things got interesting.

Taking pictures of fireworks without a tripod, is it possible?

Visiting a touristy destination with a full crowd gives a certain thrill for me, especially during this trip I couldn't stay at one place. With mobile conditions, I had to keep moving, while still keeping an eye to capture the moment, moving up to the fireworks at midnight. But, will taking pictures of these fireworks at different locations, and not using a tripod at all possible?

EOS 650D, EF40mm f/2.8 STM, f/2.8, 1/125sec, 40mm, ISO1600

There were a lot of firework launch spots around Ancol. One would be out in the sea (usually this would produce the biggest fireworks), another around the beach (from people launching their own fireworks), up to the music stage. To get the best photo position of the firework, I had to move around between locations. That is why, using a tripod is not an option, as I had to adjust on the fly.

Here are a few tips to take pictures without using a tripod.

Explore your Shutter speed

It would be extremely difficult to use shutter-speed below 1/20 if you want a fixed image and not a blur or shaky one. By playing around with the shutter-speed, I can actually get a high setting, and still retain the quality. By raising the ISO level, I can take the firework images with shutter-speed between 1/60 up to 1/160. Of course, you need to test it out before actually taking a picture of the main event. Try it out by taking picture of smaller fireworks, like those launched by other people.

Set your focus to infinity

With the distance between you and the fireworks being quite far, it is better if you set your focus to infinity, so that you can get the right image with the right focus. To set this, try it out first with another firework, focus to that object using a certain point. Usually the centre dot is the most sensitive. Aim using your viewfinder, lock on the focus by holding the shutter release halfway, and then change the autofocus mode on the lens into manual. Then don’t change the setting. 

Try to keep the camera stable

To get the firework photos without using a tripod, you need to consider stability as the key to success in getting a maximum quality of the photo. There are a few ways in achieving this. Find a location with a flat surface, and be careful of your steps. Use your right hand to press the shutter, while the left hand holds the camera in place. If possible, find a holding place so that your camera can stay in place.

EOS 650D, EF40mm f/2.8 STM, f/2.8, 1/125sec, 40mm, ISO1600

The fireworks at Ancol ended up being very festive. Colourful splatters gave colour to Jakarta night skies during the end of 2016, changing to 2017. People cheered as they marvelled at the beautiful fireworks. A lot of people cheered as they were excited with the shapes and colours of the fireworks. Welcoming the 2017 with joy, and hope for a better future.

EOS 650D, EF40mm f/2.8 STM, f/2.8, 1/60sec, 40mm, ISO1600

Goodbye 2016, and Hello 2017.


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Purwandini Sakti Pratiwi

A journalistic graduate, currently working as a freelance photographer and writer. Enjoys the beach, walking around the city and solo travels. Interested in street photography, travel photography, wedding photography, and also black & white photography.