British Columbia

How to photograph snowy mountains, fireworks, the Northern Lights, and more

There are a lot of beautiful sights in Vancouver as 2015 comes to an end: New Year's Eve fireworks, snowy mountains and maybe even the Northern Lights. Here's how to take great photos of them.

Tips and tricks from photographer Amir Hariri, who specializes in fine art and landscape work

Amir Hariri and Karina Mikertumova specialize in landscape and art photography with their company Vanexus Photography. Here are some tips for getting the best results from your shots as 2015 draws to a close. (Vanexus Photography)

It's hard to imagine a better time to be an amateur photographer. The snowy mountains look spectacular, there are fireworks in Vancouver for New Year's Eve, and there may even be a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Photographer Amir Hariri has some ideas on how to capture these moments — and how to get the most out of your New Year's Eve party photos.

Hariri and his partner Karina Mikertumova have more than 2,500 followers on their Instagram account, @vanexusphotography, where they post their fine art and landscape work.

Here are Hariri's tips for your 2015-ending photos.

North Shore mountains

For shots of the mountains, watch for bouncing light and make sure your white balance is good (Vanexus Photography)

For taking photos of the mountains from a distance, Hariri recommends a zoom lens to get close in.

"You can also create the optical illusion where the mountains look bigger behind the city if you position yourself well behind Downtown, like Kits Beach area is a fantastic place for that," Hariri said.

But if you're in the mountains, he says any wide-angle lens — even a cellphone — can take great photos. Just make sure to watch out for extra light bouncing off the snow and make sure your white balance is right.

New Year's Eve fireworks

For shots of fireworks, a tripod is essential. (Vanexus Photography)

If you want your fireworks photos to soar, Hariri says you should get a tripod for stability.

"If you have even the steadiest hands, it will still move enough … that everything will look blurry," he said. "Preferably you want to have a remote release so you can touch the camera as little as possible."

Hariri also says it's worth remembering that the best photos from fireworks displays usually come at the end of the show. That means you can spend the early going practising.

Northern Lights

If you want to get shots of the Northern Lights in the Lower Mainland, a long exposure will give you vibrant colours. (Vanexus Photography)

When it comes to photographing the Northern Lights, a tripod and remote release are helpful, but think about exposure time as well.

"For us, even if it's a strong storm, it's not as visible as the photos you see because the photos are exposed for 20 seconds, 15 seconds long," he said.

He says to get the best results, head up to somewhere like Porteau Cove, Squamish or Whistler and go for a 15-20 second exposure.

New Year's Eve house parties

If you're sending 2015 off with a house party on New Year's Eve and you want to capture the moment, Hariri says a cell phone camera is great, and the main thing to worry about is proper lighting.

Don't worry too much about staging the perfect shot, he says.

"The best shots are always the least planned shots," he said. "Have fun and take the moments. If you're the one responsible for taking the pictures, pick the moments where people are least suspecting."

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: How to take great photos of fireworks, the Northern Lights, NYE and more


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