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02-07-2015, 02:47 PM   #1
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Firework photos

I use a Pentax Kx, usually with a Pentax 18-250 lens. On the few occasions I've tried to take firework photos the results were disappointing. The Pentax manual and the camera menu do not give guidance for camera settings for these pics. What ISO, aperture, speed, etc. should I use as a starting point? Advice would be welcome.

02-07-2015, 02:53 PM   #2
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Check this thread and follow some links in it. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/38-photographic-technique/277390-whats-yo...fireworks.html
02-07-2015, 04:02 PM   #3
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place camera on a tripod
Conect cable or wireless release
Set the iso to 100
Set the Aperture as small as posible, at f16 you will probably no longer see the firework in all it's glory and at 5.6 or so it will probably be mostly white, it depends on the intensity of the firework so a given number that always work is not possible.
Set the mode to I would say either bulb. So you control it yourself. Open at launch, close when it has fireworked... or manual with something like 5 sec Shutter time.
Manual focus at infinity or just short.

then take a shot on some firework

adjust aperture, if it is too bright smaller... if it is too dark bigger. If it is still too dark at f8 i would recommend raising the ISO instead of bigger aperture. Or you might get focus issues etc.

And once you have the right settings fire away.
02-07-2015, 10:12 PM   #4
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discharged uses an almost identical technique to mine. There are some firework shots I took for the fun of it when I was in Northern Saskatchewan a bit over a year ago on my Flickr Site.

K10D + DA* 16-50/2.8 on Manfrotto tripod and head. Cable release. Most are ISO 400 @ f/ll and 16mm. I cannot remember how to get to the large sizes to see the individual EXIF data. I looked in my Lightroom Catalog.

02-08-2015, 10:05 AM   #5
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I did some 20-30 second exposure. I liked that better, but it also matters your position or how big is the show.
02-08-2015, 11:17 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by semaca Quote
I did some 20-30 second exposure. I liked that better, but it also matters your position or how big is the show.
Yeah - Emma Lake is a volunteer only fire department in a small town in Northern Saskatchewan. I managed to worm my way into a spot under an overhang with a clear view, but it wasn't the best location as anyone can see from the angles. The fire department shot all the cannons out over the lake which didn't help much.
02-08-2015, 04:17 PM   #7
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Focus can be a challenge. I use live view and manual focus to get it close enough, then leave the camera on manual focus - otherwise the camera will spend all night focusing.

The K-x doesn't have the interval timer, wired remote socket or ability to turn off long-exposure NR, which are really useful for fireworks. I like to use the interval timer. I frame the shots with some extra space around them, set the focus as above and use M mode. I set ISO to a low number, aperture to f11 or so, shutter speed to 4 to 8 seconds. Then I set the interval timer to take lots of shots. (The interval has to be larger than the shutter speed. If the shutter speed is 6 sec., use a 7 sec. interval.) The camera will just keep shooting. You have to rely a little on luck but most of these shots will be fine, and you can sit back to watch the show. You may want to set 20 shots, review and adjust, then take another 20 shots. Wind can cause your frame to drift.
02-08-2015, 07:57 PM   #8
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I use a cabled remote with the camera on a tripod and just hit the button when the "bang" of the cannon comes, and then let go when I like the composition at the end.

02-09-2015, 02:51 AM   #9
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I've done a couple of links to posts I have made on the subject which include photos.

Unlike others here I prefer to capture just the burst, shooting at perhaps 1/60 . I snap the shutter when the big explosion happens, and the timing generally has all but the center burst, with the embers still streaking outwards.

I find if you do a long exposure, you get the burned out center streak of the upwards shot as well as the burst. It looks more like a willow tree than a firework(in my opinion)

Also note, when post processing, if you raise the level for black slightly, you can eliminate all the smoke.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/38-photographic-technique/80702-please-he...tml#post817079

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/6-pentax-dslr-discussion/105661-photograp...ml#post1087112
02-09-2015, 02:04 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I've done a couple of links to posts I have made on the subject which include photos.

Unlike others here I prefer to capture just the burst, shooting at perhaps 1/60 . I snap the shutter when the big explosion happens, and the timing generally has all but the center burst, with the embers still streaking outwards.

I find if you do a long exposure, you get the burned out center streak of the upwards shot as well as the burst. It looks more like a willow tree than a firework(in my opinion)

Also note, when post processing, if you raise the level for black slightly, you can eliminate all the smoke.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/38-photographic-technique/80702-please-he...tml#post817079

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/6-pentax-dslr-discussion/105661-photograp...ml#post1087112
Thanks for your advice everyone. I didn't realize firework shots were so complicated to take. No wonder my earlier attempts were so miserable. Now I have to wait for July 4th.
02-09-2015, 03:39 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by P. Soo Quote
Thanks for your advice everyone. I didn't realize firework shots were so complicated to take. No wonder my earlier attempts were so miserable. Now I have to wait for July 4th.

They're not really complicated at all.. you just have some people nitpicking the process here getting into finer details.

ISO 100, f/8-16, 3-30 seconds. is where you should be generally. The fun thing is you can try out different settings on the fly and see what you get there. That is the best way to learn I think.

That said, here is one I took with a Pentax K-x at ISO 100, f/22, for 30 seconds at 200mm (actually on the lens I'm selling in the marketplace now). So I'd say just try out the different settings but keep ISO at lowest possible.

02-09-2015, 03:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mee Quote
They're not really complicated at all.. you just have some people nitpicking the process here getting into finer details.

ISO 100, f/8-16, 3-30 seconds. is where you should be generally. The fun thing is you can try out different settings on the fly and see what you get there. That is the best way to learn I think.

That said, here is one I took with a Pentax K-x at ISO 100, f/22, for 30 seconds at 200mm (actually on the lens I'm selling in the marketplace now). So I'd say just try out the different settings but keep ISO at lowest possible.
Now that's a nice photo. Thanks.
02-09-2015, 11:01 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by P. Soo Quote
Thanks for your advice everyone. I didn't realize firework shots were so complicated to take. No wonder my earlier attempts were so miserable. Now I have to wait for July 4th.
Scored learning about adjustment of black levels, try something different, but with similar problems..

I shoot neon signs. The challenge, with store signs is to cut the background light out , because the signs are usually in store windows. Take a shot of a sign, exposing for the sign tube itself, and then at home, play with the sliders to increase the level that is interpreted as black. You will get an idea of what can be achieved.

This will help you learn the PP techniques you need to eliminate the smoke and back scatter. (Although some people like this in their shots)
02-10-2015, 05:15 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Scored learning about adjustment of black levels, try something different, but with similar problems..

I shoot neon signs. The challenge, with store signs is to cut the background light out , because the signs are usually in store windows. Take a shot of a sign, exposing for the sign tube itself, and then at home, play with the sliders to increase the level that is interpreted as black. You will get an idea of what can be achieved.

This will help you learn the PP techniques you need to eliminate the smoke and back scatter. (Although some people like this in their shots)
Good Idea, Lowell. I can practice this PP technique without waiting for July 4th.
02-10-2015, 08:11 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by P. Soo Quote
Now that's a nice photo. Thanks.
Hello again, Mee. I was looking again at the photo you included in your reply. You say it was taken with a Kx but how did you get the broken lines in the firework trajectories. It looks like a video shot with rapidly repeating frames giving the broken lines. On a time exposure won't you get a continuous arc for the firework path?
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