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06-28-2009, 10:59 AM   #1
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Photographing fireworks...

How do you do it? I have a tripod so, check on that item. Do I want to do a low ISO and do a bulb exposure with the tripod? And would I want to use a zoom? Hmm. I would love to know because tonight is our area's big display and I am going to attempt to get some pictures... Any help is welcome!!

I have a tammy 70-300mm DI II
FA 50 f/1.4
DA 40mm f/2.8...

what to use and how to set it up....


06-28-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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How to Photograph Fireworks Displays
06-28-2009, 11:15 AM   #3
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Do you want the "streaks" from the displays? Then go for ISO 100-400 f/8 1/4s or so...something like that. Freezing the motion would require 1/125s+ shutter speed.

I would use the remote, on a tripod, and let the camera do the metering for a test. Then switch to Manual mode and go from there. Bulb mode is only useful for exposures longer than 30s (as long as the camera can do "automatically").

The lens depends on where you'll be. If I watch em, I'll probably be on the Middleton side of the lake so that's a good distance away. I'll probably pack the 80-320, 50, 28, and 16mm (that...just for fun to catch the reflections). At or around Warner I'd use 16-50mm, probably favoring the wide side.
06-28-2009, 12:34 PM   #4
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I did my first fireworks this year. I went medium-speed/high-ISO. You can see the results here:

I later learnt that most people use a slow speed to get the trails.


06-28-2009, 12:55 PM   #5
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06-28-2009, 01:00 PM   #6
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I used 5sek exposure for these, tripod, 99 shots sequence, Manual focus, da 35 I used. But these are small fireworks, dont know if your gona shoot some big ones.

06-28-2009, 01:11 PM   #7
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Don't shoot the very first one fired. Use the first few seconds to frame the picture properly. If you are using a zoom, don't frame too tight. Go wider. You can always crop a bit later.

06-28-2009, 01:41 PM   #8
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Thanks for the link, Matt. Very helpful site!

06-28-2009, 02:02 PM   #9
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My take on this is to pre-empt the cracking of the fireworks (and you can usually tell by the initial 'pop' as the firework is propelled into the sky before it bursts open in colour).

At this stage you would have set up the camera to take a 5-10 sec exposure at f/6.3-8 and ISO 200-400 or so, ready to trip the shutter at that moment. Then you would have captured the firework bursting open, which gives the most spectacular results.
06-28-2009, 02:02 PM   #10
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These fireworks are the Midwest's largest...about 30 minutes worth...250,000 people are expected to attend (Madison has 208,xxx people officially).

Plenty of time to work Plus there's always Monona, DeForest, Sun Prairie, etc later on...
06-28-2009, 02:59 PM   #11
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fireworks are a strange subject. getting the technique right is one aspect, after that, i quickly got bored with it and wanted to do some images instead. the only solution is to include some of the environment, for me, reflections (if on water), but not only. i am honestly quite bored with my own shots, so tkae that into account when evaluating my advice.

a few points about technique: if you expect to be close to "ground zero" (as in, less than a few hundred meters), get a wideangle, or even ultrawide too, you might need it. scout the location in advance (one hour at least, i would say, depends how well you know the location already), try to compose some imaginary shots, and chose a spot that seems to work for you. some things most people don't "get": you can control how birght the streaks are with aperture/iso, not with shutter speed (unless you are going for frozen action, no streaks), you will quickly learn by feel if you need to open up or close, and roughly how much, when you see the firework burst and see how birght it is, they can vary wildly depending on the complexity of the show. if you use very long exposure times (what this means depends on how abundent the show is at that particular time), shutter speed will matter to some extent (because of overlaping of succesive fireworks). the exposure time will affect the brightness of the environment, though, which will most likely be lit by the fireworks themselves, so if you care about that, you will need to juggle with those settings a bit. you might want to deactivate dark frame substraction if you are using a k10d, you cannot if you are using a k20d, this will enable you to react faster (no wait time between shots). set the camera on a tripod, and look at the show while you shoot, trying to anticipate and decide when to pull the trigger, don't look through the viewfinder, at least not too much, get a remote (cable) release if possible (more confortable), turn sr off, don't use shutter delay to get mirro lock up (you'll have to make do without mlu). check the shots from time to time on the lcd, turn on the blinking of highlights (saves a lot of time) and the "quick zoom" (if using a k10d or k20d). finally, keep in mind nights can be colder than you might think (depending on your area), and especially so by the water, keep in mind you will be standing still for a long while.

have fun

edit: examples, fwiw

Last edited by nanok; 06-28-2009 at 03:05 PM.
06-30-2009, 03:32 PM   #12
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Camera: Pentax K10D
Exposure: 13 sec (13)
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 22 mm

Trailing curtain flash. I made them stand still and kiss for thirteen seconds. Then at the end the flash popped and exposed them. the ambient city light messed me up a bit but eh...looks good to me.
06-30-2009, 04:03 PM   #13
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I love it, MJB! Always a fan of photos that include the Arch
07-01-2009, 09:58 AM   #14
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This is another link worth checking out.
07-02-2009, 02:43 AM   #15
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I took some pictures of the Canada Day Fireworks last night in Edmonton and added them to flickr. I'll add exposure times ect info to them all after I get some much needed sleep.

Canada Day 2009 - a set on Flickr

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