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Old 16-10-2006, 20:22   #1 (permalink)
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Fireworks

Hiya all, well it's that time of year again where all the dogs n cats book there hols and go off somewhere quiet for a month or so,
I was wondering if anybody has any advice on taking shots at firework displays. I have tried for years to get good shots and to be honest I have failed miserably
Im really pants at it so any pointers would be much appreciated.
Cheers in advance
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Old 16-10-2006, 20:45   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Al depends on what you're after. But my rule of thumb is to find somewhere with an interesting foreground and expose for that less a little for the flashes of the fireworks (no exact measure on this as it depends how far away they are how many there are and just how bright they are). So long as not too many go off in the same place they should expose themselves roughly correctly on a sensible camera setting (ie smaller aperture and longer exposure [not too small though]).
It is a fairly random thing, so tricky to explain (for me anyway). Just remember you can only work with what you know, you take care of the detail/interest in the foreground a let the unknown quantity (the fireworks) work it's magic for the background.

I'm sure someone who knows what they're talking about will be along in a sec, then you can ignore me!
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Old 16-10-2006, 21:11   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Last year was the first year I tried and I was surprised to have some success, most of the time I had the aperture on about f11, used a wide angle lens set to hyperfocal distance, stuck the camera on a tripod in bulb mode with the remote.

I took a couple of test shots at between 5 and 10 seconds when there were no fireworks to ensure that the background was near black (must be away from the bonfire or any streetlamps of course). Then I just waited until the fireworks started and held the shutter open for as many flashes as I felt like within the 5 - 10 second window.

I don't know if that's the right way to do it but I was quite happy with the results in terms of exposure. I'm looking forward to getting some better composition this year.







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Old 16-10-2006, 23:16   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

I hate fireworks, My dog hates them even more. Living where I do we have weeks & weeks of constant explosions night after night (Rant over)
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Old 17-10-2006, 08:40   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Southport hosts the National Firework Competition annually and I have been lucky enough to photograph that event twice now. On both occasions I have used a wide angle lens (17mm) to allow for the unpredictability of where the fireworks will appear and always shoot with small apertures (large f stops) and in bulb mode with the remote cable release.

The small apertures allows for two things, the first is the keep the backgrounds as dark as possible and the second is that if you get a good burst of fireworks going off together it will prevent them from being blown out in the centre and also allow you to keep the shutter open for longer.

It also goes without saying that a sturdy tripod is a must

The other thing to watch out for is foreground interest, sometimes there are other subject matter around the locations that can add an extra element to your firework shots and often make them stand out more. A local church tower of the familiar outline of a landscape can often make the pictures much more relevant. The trick is to balance those extras with the exposure of the exploding fireworks so that you have a nice balance or at least the effect you are aiming for.

Incidentally, firework shots can often make good silhouette photos…January’s round of the competition comes to mind.

Here are a couple from my Southport shoots.



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Old 17-10-2006, 16:08   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Steve, I'm jealous, yours are way better than mine.

You say you used a 17mm as you can't be sure where the fireworks will appear, are those images cropped at all to account for that?

cheers

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Old 17-10-2006, 16:18   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Cheers

Those four are not however I do have a load that needed cropping or just were not good enough to keep. Even using the wide angle, as the Southport show is a national competition and these are industrial size fireworks in some of the displays (especially the finales) the spread of the final explosions is massive.

The scale is deceptive...if you look in the third shot, right at the base in between the three 'launchers' you may just be able to see some boxes? Those are actually articulated lorries.
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Old 17-10-2006, 16:44   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Ok thanks so far for the pointers but what about focus? one of the main problems I have is shots not been sharp as in the superb examples above. I know this all sounds like im an idiot and I should really know, but the times I have tried this and got a load of c##p I don't care to mention.
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Old 17-10-2006, 17:01   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Well I set my lens to the hyperfocal distance for that aperture and focal length, but if you're further away from bigger fireworks like Steve I think maybe just set to infinity (I'm probably wrong though ), using a small aperture should ensure that anything a reasonable distance away is in focus.

Last edited by danpen; 17-10-2006 at 18:05.
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Old 18-10-2006, 04:51   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

well you are all doing alot better than me i have good friend who last year got their pyrotecnic licence to let of fire works, so when this happened we all went on big firework camping trips. anyway no matter how much i tryed all i can get as a result is a black photo, (and i did check the lens cap wasnt on either ) taking photos of fireworks are a mastered art in my view.
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Old 19-10-2006, 08:02   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

We had an excellent fireworks display here in Cardiff, when they opened the Millennium Arts Centre. Got the best spot, overlooking the Bay, the rain stopped, the £200k of fireworks went off. Superb display. We (couple mates, including a Pro) agreed that mine were probably the best - from the LCD display. Got 'em back and discovered that my tripod had a wobble - on every shot (my remote arrived 3 days later!). Aghhhhhhhhhhh!

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Old 19-10-2006, 08:06   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Should have used your timer to reduce the wobble

Oh and there is a moral in there too
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Old 19-10-2006, 09:05   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Fireworks

Quote:
Should have used your timer to reduce the wobble
But that would mean anticipating the launch, tho' if I known there'd be wobble............
Quote:
Oh and there is a moral in there too
Grrrrr
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