I blame Ke$ha for making me want to go insane, go insane throw some glitter make it rain. There’s also P!NK who was all “Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?” and I was all, “You know what P!NK? I haven’t, but I sure would like to.”

So I bought some glitter and did just that. (Well, I made Cody’s baby sister throw it. (And by “throw” I mean “blow” which brings this whole thing back to Ke$ha meaning maybe that girl really does know what she’s talking about.))

Here’s what to consider when you throw glitter.

A) You want to be far enough back so the glitter doesn’t blow into your expensive camera.

B) You want a nice wide aperture so you get more in focus, not just one or two flecks of glitter and a fingertip.

C) To have a wide enough aperture you need somewhere bright to shoot (which usually means outside which is good because who wants to blow glitter all over their house?)

D) Having something bright (like the sun) means you don’t have to set up external side lighting to highlight the glitter (which is what I found a lot of photographers doing when I did my “how to photograph glitter in the air” research. It’s totally fine if you want to do it that way but I’m kind of lazy and if the sun is willing to light stuff up for me? Go ahead sun!)

E) Finally, you want a nice high shutter speed so you can catch the glitter mid-flight. Too slow and you’ll wonder why you just took a picture of someone blowing into their hands.

I shot these with a Canon 7D with a 70-300 f/4.0-5.6 IS outside on a super bright and sunny day.

BUT. Guess what happens when you shoot at high noon on a super bright and sunny day?

If you guessed harsh shadows, pat yourself on the back because you would be correct.


I fixed this little conundrum by moving her up next to my light colored house. BOOM. Instant reflector.


(Isn’t she pretty? She’s single! Florida area! Call today!)

Another thing worth mentioning is that the f/stop actually went up an entire stop in the following photo yet the background became even more lovely and blurry. BUT HOW CASEY?


Compression! In the first photo I was standing fairly close to her (well, as close as 70mm will let you stand, perhaps four feet?) In the photo above I’m standing at least 12 feet away from her but I’m zoomed in which allows her to be totally in focus while the background just blurs into lovely oblivion. This is why I shoot portraits with my 70-300 lens if I can, they’re so much more realistic and lovely and it’s also why I don’t need a 70-200 2.8L. Stand far enough back with a zoom lens and you’re going to get a delicious bokeh that rivals any low aperture lens at half the size and a quarter the cost.


I shot this on AI SERVO which means if and when her hands moved while she blew on the glitter they would stay in focus. I also set my shutter to continuous release (which is *I think* 8 frames per second on my camera.) I wanted a nice wide aperture so I could get a lot of the glitter in focus but have her just slightly out of focus. Even though it was bright as dickens outside I moved my ISO up to 400 so I could get my shutter speed higher to catch the glitter in mid air.


For the first set I filled her hands with just silver holographic glitter, not super fine but also not that scratchy crummy stuff we used in grade school.

How to Photograph Throwing Glitter

The second time around (once I was sure I knew I was getting what I wanted) I filled her hands with foil confetti stars as well as a fine holographic blue glitter.

How to Photograph Throwing Glitter
How to Photograph Throwing Glitter

More sparkle is never a bad thing.

Since I was zoomed in on her no glitter ended up on me or in my camera and thankfully it was a calm day so the glitter carnage on her was kept to a minimum as well.

I think that’s it! Any questions? Comments? Concerns?

My next big idea is to fill a balloon with glitter, blow it up then photograph it popping. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE GLITTER BOMB!? WHEE!

So there you go, Ke$ha and P!NK sang about it. I made it happen.

(animated GIF tutorial can be found here.)


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