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Thread: Fireworks Tips

  1. #1
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Fireworks Tips

    With Independence Day and other miscellaneous local summer celebrations coming up I think this will be timely.

    First, this only applies if you camera has manual settings. If it only has a fireworks mode, just slap it on a tripod and let it do its thing, it will pretty much do the same things I discuss here, more or less.

    You will need three things:

    A camera with manual settings and shutter speeds in the range of 4-10 seconds. (Bulb is best)
    A sturdy tripod
    A cable release or IR remote. A countdown timer can be a substitute, though it will make timing difficult.

    Settings should be as follows:

    ISO as low as possible
    aperture in the f/8-f/14 range
    shutter speed on BULB (or several seconds if your camera has no B setting)

    Setup:

    Put the camera on the tripod and frame the scene kinda loosely. The explosions will be all over the place and going tight on one means you'll miss the next one. Set the camera on BULB. Hold on to the release and wait until you hear the launch of the rocket, at this point open the shutter. Keep it open through the whole explosion until the tendrils start to fade. At this point, close it and wait for the next round. Take test shots as each camera has different ISO settings, just try to get something you like. Personally, I aim to keep the tendrils form blowing out to white, I like retaining the color in them. My shots below were taken with a D100 at ISO 200, f/11. Shutter was open only long enough to let the explosion develop and drift.







    -Seb

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  2. #2
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Forgot to mention, include something to give scale to the explosions while groundign the image. Buildings, people, cars, whatever. It adds visual interest.
    -Seb

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    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  3. #3
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Thanks Seb! I hope to get a chance to try this out.

    Paul

  4. #4
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Buildings can add a lot of interest, but making sure the camera is level is important in this case. I've usually used ISO100 and F8. Shutter speed doesn't matter if there's nothing but a dark sky in the frame but in this case I used the above as a starting point and whatever shutter speed I needed to keep from blowing out the lights on the building. Think I metered on the light blue part of the building in the first shot at +1 or +1-1/2. It's on E100VS and shot on medium format - that's why it's square. The other one is digital and I probably used the spot meter on the street at +1 and set the WB on the white area at the building's entrance (lower corner).

    Great idea, Seb - completely slipped my mind...
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  5. #5
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Catching reflections over glassy water also makes for a nice, pleasing image.
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  6. #6
    Fluorite Toothpaste poker's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Thanks for this thread Sebastian and all that contributed. It's now my next personal photo project. Found a fireworks show in in my area. Looking foward to trying out these techniques on the 4th of July.

    http://www.hansen4th.com/location.htm

    Question for you Sebastian. You mention using the lowest possible ISO but your samples used 200. Why?

    Thanks.
    Canon 5D MKII & Canon 7D

  7. #7
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Because that's the lowest possible ISO on the D100.
    -Seb

    My website

    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  8. #8
    Fluorite Toothpaste poker's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastian
    Because that's the lowest possible ISO on the D100.
    Oh, duh, I thought about that but didn't want to assume....my bad.

    Canon 5D MKII & Canon 7D

  9. #9
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    All good.
    -Seb

    My website

    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  10. #10
    It's hurricane season... again...
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    This is great info Sebastian- can someone please sticky this for a week?
    Kristin
    Canon Bird Nerd #2


  11. #11
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    At the risk of sounding really stupid - and showing how much I do not know - can this be done w/ a digital slr? I'm here to learn - although I'm finding it difficult to be included.

  12. #12
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by ladybugamanda
    can this be done w/ a digital slr? I'm here to learn - although I'm finding it difficult to be included.
    You bet it can! The photos that Sebatian posted were taken with a DSLR.

    Why is it that you find it difficult to be included? Most of the members here are shooting digital now and the principles of photography are pretty much the same with film or digital. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
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  13. #13
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by ladybugamanda
    I'm here to learn - although I'm finding it difficult to be included.
    No one here gets "included," you get out of the site what you put into it. Just like any other online forum.
    -Seb

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    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  14. #14
    Member ladybugamanda's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastian
    No one here gets "included," you get out of the site what you put into it. Just like any other online forum.
    I ask questions - they don't get answered. How do you "put into" it while receiving the cold shoulder? I can't make a lot of comments because I don't know alot - so I ask questions which don't get answered.

  15. #15
    Member ladybugamanda's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by mjs1973
    You bet it can! The photos that Sebatian posted were taken with a DSLR.

    Why is it that you find it difficult to be included? Most of the members here are shooting digital now and the principles of photography are pretty much the same with film or digital. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
    Thank you for answering my question. I've asked questions in the other forums that go unanswered - asked advice, etc. It seems like a lot of people here have 'known' each other for a long time - and I guess it's hard to accept new people not knowing if they are going to stick around or not. I guess I was feeling a bit sorry for myself last night.:cryin: I tend to want all the answers and want them yesterday. So, back to the fireworks thing - I guess I need to get my book out and see if I can figure that whole thing out. I have a RebelXT. Thanks again for taking the time to answer.

  16. #16
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    You have to realize that unanswered questions are part of being a member of any site such as this one. There are reasons for questions going unanswered.

    1) Poor timing: people here come and go, and check on the site in their free time. 99.99% of the people here are here because they want to bee, not because of any obligation. Your question just might have gotten neglected because it was posted in off hours, it happens to all of us. If a reasonable time frame has passed and you still want it answered, try reposting it.
    2) Was it something REALLY easily looked up in a manual or a really simple google search? If so, the members here tend to be polite and leave the question be. On other forums you would get flamed to the point of tears for asking something obvious, even if it isn't obvious to you. Once again, wait some time, try doing some research and post it again.
    3) Wrong forum. Many times a question will go unanswered because it gets posted in the wrong forum. People might not know the answer and wait for someone else to come along to take care of it, but that person never sees the question. Once again, wait some time and repost.

    Those are just some off the top of my head, you questions might not get answered for something totally different or any combination of the above. Point is, try again. You're not being neglected, you're just a part of a mass of traffic, be persistent.
    -Seb

    My website

    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  17. #17
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by ladybugamanda
    Thank you for answering my question. I've asked questions in the other forums that go unanswered - asked advice, etc. It seems like a lot of people here have 'known' each other for a long time - and I guess it's hard to accept new people not knowing if they are going to stick around or not. I guess I was feeling a bit sorry for myself last night.:cryin: I tend to want all the answers and want them yesterday. So, back to the fireworks thing - I guess I need to get my book out and see if I can figure that whole thing out. I have a RebelXT. Thanks again for taking the time to answer.
    Where are you posting questions? I'm the Help Forum moderator, and it's pretty rare that a question goes unanswered there - usually because it's a very specific question about a piece of equipment that apparently nobody else here has... It's really a very friendly place, feel free to PM me if you have any concerns. New people are always welcome here - we all were at one time!

    As far as my shots, one was film (square one) and the other was with a DSLR. It is very possible to do it with either - and the techniques are identical.

  18. #18
    Fluorite Toothpaste poker's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    I'm pretty much going to focus to infinity for this right? Should I set to manual focus so that the lens doesn't try to focus before releasing the shutter?

    and

    Zoom wide and crop later?

    Can't wait until next week! Happy early 4th of July U.S. Americans!
    Canon 5D MKII & Canon 7D

  19. #19
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by manacsa
    I'm pretty much going to focus to infinity for this right? Should I set to manual focus so that the lens doesn't try to focus before releasing the shutter?

    and

    Zoom wide and crop later?

    Can't wait until next week! Happy early 4th of July U.S. Americans!

    I would suggest switching to MF and focusing to infinity since you are most likely going to be pointing your camera at a big black sky and the AF will hunt for something that isn't there. If you have something else visible in the image, like a building, you might want to focus on that.
    Mike

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  20. #20
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    ...what Michael said. As far as zooming wide and cropping later, it's an option but don't shoot too wide. After a couple of frames you'll be able to tell about what you need for a focal length and adjust accordingly. FWIW, both of mine are full frame...

  21. #21
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Good point about the focus. The fireworks themselves won't really ever be sharp, they're just blurs of light. If you have something in the frame, a building or some trees, you want those to be sharp if they're static. And with the distances we're dealing with here, you're more than likely at infinity no matter what.
    -Seb

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    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by ladybugamanda
    Thank you for answering my question. I've asked questions in the other forums that go unanswered - asked advice, etc. .
    I think that your question needs to be clear and you have to provide enough information to make it possible for someone to answer it. Just in cameras for example, there are a variety of film formats, digital point and shoot, superzooms that do video as well, and a range of DSLRs from entry level to professional. There is also a complete range of lens, filters and lighting equipment. Sometimes, we need to know what equipment you are using. Sometimes in order to answer a question, we would need to see a photo example to illustrate your problem. Members may also not want to reply simply to say that they do not understand your question...and by that I mean that it has not been clearly communicated. Still others may be of the opinion that you have not done sufficient 'homework' ...research...reading the manual etc. to understand an answer to your question. Then of course the answer may be in back postings.

    Ronnoco

  23. #23
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    One thing I wanted to add:

    You can play with multiple exposures as well. Meaning, instead of capturing one explosion per frame, try releasing the shutter several times on the same frame. You can get huge, beautiful displays this way.

    For exposure, I like my 'works a bit darker and more cololrful so I shoot around iso 100 and f11. Though I usually pop a few off at f8 just for good measure.

    I wish I had my good shots scanned in. Here are a few mediocre ones from DC. Unfortunately, it's been a few years and I don't remember the settings.

    Rick
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  24. #24
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Good point Rick. For those of us not using film, you can create a multiple exposures with digital files too. This is a combination of 7 seperate exposures from the 4th last year. My towns fireworks display isn't big enuf to have a bunch of fireworks in a single shot.

    Mike

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  25. #25
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    Re: Fireworks Tips

    Great tips, Sebastian. Maybe we should have this as a tutorial.
    Sean Massey
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