Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Personal Favorites - Fireworks

Here are some of my recent favorites:

For years, I struggled to get well-focused pictures of fireworks. For starters, it's dark, and you can't ask the subject to re-do a shot. Then there are the bugs, the soft ground, and the unpredictable timing of the shots. After learning a few techniques, I grew to enjoy the process. Here are some tips: The most important aspect of a good fireworks shot is a long exposure and high depth of field. This requires you to use a tripod and ignore the program settings of the camera. By using the "bulb" feature and holding the exposure from the time you hear the launch until the completion of the burst with a handheld shutter release, you create a "painting" of the entire shell's trajectory. You can also use a card (or even your hand) to cover the lens between shells, if you wish to combine multiple explosions in a single frame. For example, one of the above shots was a 24-second exposure using this technique. Don't check every image you shoot -- you simply won't have the time, and you'll likely miss the next few shells. Enjoy the variable of luck in good firework shots; you have no idea once you commit to the exposure how impressive the result will be. Finally, calibrate the camera position once, and keep shooting. Expect that no more than one in five shots will be a keeper.

Link to full-screen slideshow:

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