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Thread: Fireworks photography - help need please

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    mammarazzi's Avatar
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    Fireworks photography - help need please

    Hi All,

    November 5th coming up and I will be attending a fireworks display - never photographed fireworks before any suggestions on lens, settings etc. Most grateful for any help.

    Joanne

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Quote Originally Posted by mammarazzi View Post
    Hi All,

    November 5th coming up and I will be attending a fireworks display - never photographed fireworks before any suggestions on lens, settings etc. Most grateful for any help.

    Joanne
    Hi Joanne,

    Any lens will but the preferred lens is a wide angle so you get more visual cues in the image. You should use a tripod or steady surface and your settings can range anywhere from: (1/30s, f2.8, ISO 100) to (1/60s, f/11, ISO 6400). Which lenses do you have?

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Joanne,
    I normally shoot fireworks with a 50mm or less with it set to infinity, white balance set to auto, f8-f11 aperture, partial metering mode, ISO @ 100, on a bulb setting with a remote release and on a tripod. Once the fireworks start, depending on how much of the shot trail I want is when I press the shutter release. On bulb setting you can get as many shot of the fireworks as you want to a point. You can over expose in this setup but is hard. I normally take 2-4 burst and then take another. Almost forgot, if you camera has the ability deactivate the noise reduction and activate the mirror lock up. As shoot with a Canon 7D it has dual processors it the noise reduction feature is not as important.

    Fireworks photography - help need please

    Fireworks photography - help need please

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    mammarazzi's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Hi John

    I am a relative newcomer to using DSLR cameras ( I had my 1st camera at Christmas). I have A Canon EOS 550 with a basic 18 -55mm lens, I also have a 55 - 250mm 4-5.6 and a 100-400mm L 4.5-5.6 which I use for sports and action shots. As you see non of them are great for low light photography. I won't have a great deal of time to play around with settings as it will be the school fireworks so will be lucky to have 5 - 10 mins to shoot so I am looking for a setting that will give me relatively good results. Also how would you set up and any tips on timing (do I use the continuous shooting). Sorry but I really am a novice.
    Joanne

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Hi Joanne,

    There is a useful article on Firework tips at The Digital Picture:

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/P...Fireworks.aspx

    One tip states that you should use an aperture from f8 to f16. This means that you do not need a fast lens, any lens will do. However it seems that a tripod is going to be very useful for those long 2-10 second shots.

    Regards,

    Alex

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Haven't done much myself but read a lot about it.
    Take a black card, set camera to bulb (or long exposure is other light sources around). Trigger camera and hold card in front, you can remove the card as soon as you hear the launch of the rocket and replace as appropriate.
    A couple of practice runs will indicate if there are other light sources to be concerned about and what the most effective aperture to use is (typically 8-16).
    If you can by water then reflections are also there to photograph.

    Graham

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    One of the tricks is anticipating where the rockets will explode.

    1. Have a word beforehand with one of the organisers to determine what power/height the rockets will go to, you may even be told a firing sequence if there is one.
    2. Check the wind direction, as this can affect where the rockets will explode, again the organisers are likely to have a close eye on this.
    3. Check for cloud! A cloudy night can be a real b****** for fireworks photography. I once went to Alton Towers for their spectacular (not), display as the fog and cloud was so low over the Staffordshire Moorlands, it was a case of listening to the fireworks.
    4. Check for other ambient light, both in the form of nearby or distant street or houselights and also for "light pollution" in built up areas. The darker the sky generally the better. This might mean you moving position to get the darkest bit of the sky where the fireworks are due to explode.
    5. Try to avoid "burn out" as fireworks are very bright, and multiple explosions can easily create an area that is too bright for the sensor to deal with. Might be an idea to take a few shots before the night if you know of any other displays or folk having a display/bonfire locally.
    6. Take warm clothes (obviously) and a small torch or head torch as whilst it is not really cold at the moment, fiddling around with the camera on a cool night, in the dark, may make you yearn for the fireside.
    7. Don't forget other shots such as sparkler trails that will capture well.

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Quote Originally Posted by herbert View Post
    Hi Joanne,

    There is a useful article on Firework tips at The Digital Picture:

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/P...Fireworks.aspx

    One tip states that you should use an aperture from f8 to f16. This means that you do not need a fast lens, any lens will do. However it seems that a tripod is going to be very useful for those long 2-10 second shots.

    Regards,

    Alex
    Also states...."a simple execution".

    Think that was the fate of Guy Fawkes after he tried to blow up the English Houses of Parliament centuries ago, which is why Britain commemorates Nov 5th!

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    pono's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    What about smoke on a windless or close to windless night?

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Joanne,

    Although most fireworks shots are interesting, some of the most interesting (IMO) include a readily recognizable foreground subject such as a building or statue.

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    As you see, Joanne, there isn't one simple answer to this question.

    The easy bit is, don't use the 100-400 lens. But which of the others to use is just the starting point for your dilemma. And I would say it depends on how close you can get to the action. Probably take both and decide which to use on the day.

    Will you be able to use a tripod? This answer will be critical.

    Without a tripod, all you can do is use Tv setting and work on the slowest speed that you can comfortable hold steady. Which will probably be 1/60 or possibly 1/40.

    This will limit your options a bit. However, using a bit more ISO, say ISO 400 will help. Then it is just a case of point and hope. The one advantage of hand holding is that you can easily follow the action, a bit like clay pigeon shooting.

    But you will miss a bit of fine detail in the 'starburst' displays; ground based fireworks like 'roman candles' will work better.

    A tripod will enable more flexibility of settings, as previously mentioned in other replies. But where to aim the tripod can be a bit hit or miss if you use a larger lens. However too small a lens will make everything appear too distant.

    Personally, I find my quick release ball head allows me almost as much flexibility as hand holding. Not tightening the locking handles may work but you won't be able to use very slow shutter speeds. Otherwise, it will be a case of trying to predict where to aim your lens.

    Exactly what settings will depend on your equipment and method. Personally, I'm not keen on the very long exposures which produce long feathery trails which don't look natural to me. But it depends on your viewpoint.

    I tend, when using a tripod, to set Tv to around 1/30 or maybe 1/20 if I know my tripod will be absolutely steady and an ISO of 200. But this can vary a bit depending on lens. Normally I find my 24-105 lens has plenty of scope.

    If I am likely to vary the shots between ground and sky fireworks I usually select auto focus.

    One tip I would give is to photograph a mixture of 'static' fireworks and 'sky bursts' then combine a number of shots with your editing software. This will enable you to create a decent composite image from a number of shots which just don't quite work on their own. The main trick is to set a suitable blend mode for the layers so everything blends in together without sharp edges caused by 'different shades of black'.

    And as Richard said, this enables you to also add a suitable 'reference point' or groups of people to give better overall impact to your composite images.

    Best of luck; you will only get one chance!

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Fireworks photography - help need please

    here's some fireworks i captured in 2009 of my townships pow wow celebration, shot with Canon EOS 20D,70-300mm,set at 100mm on tripod,M mode, IS disabled, manual focus,remote shutter release, 2.5sec, f/20, iso 200; this was captured at 1/2 mile distance, you can see the silhouette of the treeline at the image bottom
    Last edited by elfbob; 3rd November 2011 at 02:24 PM.

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Fireworks photography - help need please


    Here's a 2nd capture from the same viewpoint, though not as dramatic, EOS 20D,70-300mm set @ 100mm, M mode, IS disabled on tripod, remote shutter release, manual focus, 2.5s, f/13, ISO200; it really helps to figure out where the aerials will burst & fan out, this way you can prefocus for that "spot"

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Fireworks photography - help need please
    Taken 5th November 2011, Rolleston NZ
    5D Mk 11, 24-105 @ 47mm, Auto ISO @ 640, 1/50 sec, F4, manual focus on abou infinity IS on, Program.
    Tried with tripod, but difficult to get right area of sky, tried higher aperature but shutter speed limiting.

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    Not so good like those pictures above.

    Fireworks photography - help need please

    New Year 2000/2001, Denver.
    F19, 30s, 200ISO, Kodak Ektachrome E-200

    Fireworks photography - help need please

    July 4th, 2001, Denver.
    F19, 30s, 200ISO, Kodak Ektachrome E-200

    F-number alone determines firewoks exposition, F-number + time together influence exposition of the background (i.e. buildings, without fireworks).

    Perhaps F16 would be better.


    (Fuji Velvia would give better colors, but maybe to high contrast, however in today's digital times ...)
    Last edited by darekk; 10th November 2011 at 04:28 PM.

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    [IMG]Fireworks photography - help need please[/IMG]

    This picture was taken hand held with Shutter speed of about 1/5s and aperture F13 with Nikon D90-lens 18-105MM VR

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    Re: Fireworks photography - help need please

    F - number presumably depends on the relative distance traveled by fire in the field of view / time unit.
    Then it increases with the focusing distance and decreases with the focal length.
    Perhaps fireworks differ in the absolute fire speed too. Then F-number would depend additionally on the sort of fireworks.
    But this speed doesn't seem to decrease very much in time - the lines keep almost the same brightness on their entire way. Only sometimes at the same beginning are most bright. Or maybe their speed decreases along with their brighness and this is why the lines are uniform.

    No, they are lighning tails (paths), not moving points. Then in such case F-number doesn't depend on the distance and focal length.
    And maybe they act like small rockets with rocket enginees and fly at the same speed, not decreasing it. And this is why their lines keep the same brightness on their entire path. Because thanks to constant speed they produce the same amount of lightning tail / distance unit.

    However the nature of the fireworks seems to be double - they are moving points leaving constant tails. Maybe this is why the lines are much brighter in the middle. Because their interior is a trace of very bright moving point.
    Then in such case F-number would depend partially on the distance and focal length.
    And the best pictures woud be those taken at shortest distances and longest focal length. Because colorful tails would be not covered so much by white traces of moving points.
    Last edited by darekk; 10th November 2011 at 07:48 PM.

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