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Old 31-10-2007, 19:41   #1 (permalink)
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Bonfire night - Help!

I am interested in trying my hand at taking some shots of fireworks at my local display.

I live on a quiet headland overlooking the beach where the display is taking place, and as such, I am probably about 150 - 200ft above the crowds etc. I am hoping to get some good shots, as the display is quite impressive by Cornish standards .

I would like to get some shots of the fireworks at the point of explosion () I have a tripod, but no remote release, and I am concerned regarding camera shake. Has anyone got any experience of using the cameras self timer in these situations? Also any general guidelines regarding length of exposure, aperture etc.

All advice greatfully received.

TIA Alan.
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Old 31-10-2007, 20:04   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Bonfire night - Help!

This might help.
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Old 31-10-2007, 20:23   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Bonfire night - Help!

Thanks for that dabhand, I have not been near the 'puter for a while, obviously missed that thread.
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Old 31-10-2007, 21:45   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Bonfire night - Help!

I've used the two second timer on my Pentax for some low light shots and it definitely helped do away with the camera-shake
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Old 01-11-2007, 12:03   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Bonfire night - Help!

Thanks for that Angela, just wished I had something to practice on before Saturday
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Old 01-11-2007, 13:33   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Bonfire night - Help!

Torch
Tripod
Cable release
The type of lens you select depends on where you are in relation to the fireworks and the effect you wish to achieve. If you're relatively close and what you're looking for are frame-filling photos of the bursts themselves, then a short telephoto in the 100mm to 200mm range will probably work well. If you want overall views of the scene, then a 50mm to 80mm lens should do the job. And if you want to include people silhouetted in the foreground, then you'll want an even wider lens, such as a 24mm to 35mm.
Exposure settings - f/8 or f/11
How long do you hold the shutter open?
This varies, again depending on the effect you want. You may want to capture a single burst or you may wish to capture multiple bursts. Again, since this is an inexact science, don't worry too much about it. To capture a single burst, wait until you hear the sound of the mortar shell being launched. Open your shutter. Wait for the burst to explode. Keep waiting until the burst has completely finished and all the twinkling is done. Then close the shutter. That's it! If you wish to capture several bursts, wait for the sound of the shell being launched, open your shutter, wait for the burst to disappear, then cover your lens (tips on that later) and wait for the sound of the next shell being launched. Uncover your lens, wait until it's over, then cover your lens again. You be the judge of how many bursts you want in one frame. Just remember that you don't want too many -- it starts looking way too busy.

Try to be upwind of the fireworks show. As the show progresses and the smoke builds up, you'll find that it obscures the fireworks. Michael-Leonard Creditor suggests: "Rather than being upwind, I find it's better to be at a right angle to the direction of the wind. This way, smoke will be blown out of the frame most quickly. If you're directly upwind, smoke can still remain behind your colorful subjects."

If the area is a scenic one, try to include landmarks to give a sense of place. I.e., if you're photographing fireworks in Long Beach over by the harbor, including the "Queen Mary" in some of your shots will definitely show your viewers where the fireworks show was taking place. You'll also get a sense of perspective by including a landmark, even if it's the silhouette of a person in front of you, a tree, a boat, etc. Photographing fireworks as they're fired out over a lake or a harbor gives you an additional boost to your photography since you can also capture the reflection of the fireworks in the water.

At twilight, while you're waiting for the fireworks to begin, take a good look at any lights that may be behind the fireworks. Sometimes you won't notice an errant street lamp until you see that enormous glowing white blob in your resulting shots. Then you think, "how could I have missed that?" By scoping out the background first, you may have time to shift your position or switch lenses to avoid having the offending light appearing in each one of your pictures.

So many photographers automatically hold the camera horizontally when they shoot, not remembering that they can hold the camera vertically as well. Don't limit yourself! Take some shots vertically and others horizontally (I'm referring to the camera, but I guess you could lie down or stand up!).

If you're photographing multiple bursts, there are numerous ways you can cover your lens between bursts without moving the camera. Some photographers take a black baseball cap to put on the lens, others will bring a piece of non-reflective black velvet or black felt cloth to hang over the lens. Some photographers simply use their hand, while another photographer painted the inside of a round oatmeal carton black and stuck that on the front of the lens
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Old 02-11-2007, 08:22   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Bonfire night - Help!

Wow, excellent advice Mark - thankyou.

I will try some of the tips you have posted, however I think that the long exposure and covering the lense may be my best option, as I may be a bit resricted with individual exposures due to the use of self timer as opposed to cable release.

Note to self - ask Santa for cable release

Another question, would it be better to cover the viewfinder during the exposures?

I am very greatful for the advice that you guys and gals are offering - this really is a very friendly site

Regards, Alan
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Old 02-11-2007, 08:26   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Bonfire night - Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooky View Post
Another question, would it be better to cover the viewfinder during the exposures?
Providing you've no bright light shining towards the back of the camera, I'd say it wouldn't be necessary seeing as it'll be dark
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