How to Photograph Sparkler Writing (and turn them into cards)

“Now THAT was a hit,” said my husband after the kids were in bed.

Experimenting with sparklers was a fun activity for our family. 

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's

Safety

Sparklers can be a hazard so my husband and I were careful to instruct and monitor our children during this activity.

Camera Settings

Sparkler photos are simple enough to create if you have a DSLR camera, you just need to find out how to control the shutter speed (google ‘adjust shutter speed {your camera brand and type}’.  I use a Nikon D90 so the instructions are specific to my camera but most SLR and digital cameras have similar functions.

1. Select Shutter S (rather than auto, manual or what you usually use)

2. Choose on how many seconds you want the delay to be.  I set mine to 4 seconds and that worked well (enough time to form our shapes but not too long so the kids got distracted).

3. Important: Place the camera on something that doesn’t move.  You can’t hold the camera still enough in your hands for this type of photograph.  A tripod works well, but if you don’t have one, a box, railing, chair or other furniture works too.  I used the railing on our porch.

4. Get the person in position with the sparkler and then count down before you push the button.  Say “GO” in the moment after you press the button. The picture is taken when you hear the delayed ‘click’ (after 4 seconds in this case).

5. We experimented and for best results, use deliberate, not-too-fast movements to draw something within the 4 seconds time period (and only do it once unless you want to do swirls). For example, when drawing a heart, do a heart shape in the air once, and then just hold still until the person with the camera hears the click. Most of the pictures below we got on the first try so it’s not hard at all. Just keep in mind that you need to draw things in the air that don’t need breaks, but rather a continuous line.

camera instructions for delayed shutter for sparkler pictures

Swirls

This is super easy. Just get the kids to swirl their sparklers round and round in a circle.

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Star

My husband decided to try a 5 point star and this pic is our first attempt!  So, so cool!

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Heart

I did a heart by drawing a heart shape in the air once during the 4 seconds.

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Letter

K is for Kelly.  When doing letters, you have to draw it backwards so it’s the right way in the photograph.

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Love

I didn’t know how this would go but we got this photograph on the first take!  I instructed each of the kids on which letter to draw and they stood next to each other and waited for the “go”. Can’t believe how well it turned out!

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Masterchef

My eldest daughter decided to do the Masterchef symbol becuase she is a big fan of the show.

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Cloud

Cloud shape, or is it a flower?

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Craziness

Then, of course, you can just go CRAZY and see what comes out. Awesome. There’s four kids in there somewhere.

How to photograph sparkler writing - fun with families for New Year's Eve

Ideas

  • Year – 2015
  • Name
  • Word
  • Heart
  • Star
  • Swirls
  • Symbol or Logo
  • Crazy lines
  • Shapes
  • Bow
  • Smile (get two people to hold a sparkler for the eyes while someone draws a mouth)

Create Cards or Images

Using a free program like Canva or PicMonkey, it’s easy to add words to the images and turn the photographs into a card stash for the New Year (a range: birthday, love, friendship, thinking of you etc.).  These can be printed at home, or places like Officeworks and BIG W ca print customised cards.

Quick Tip: If you want to remove people in the image, in a basic photo editing program, simply increase the shadow. Below are images I whipped up in Canva using the photographs above.

Sparkler writing card - fairy dust

All you need is love

You are a Star Card

K is for Kelly

Thinking About You Card

If you were a flower, I'd pick you

Sparkler Birthday Card

I love you card

Sparkler Card

More

New Year’s Fun for Families

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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