This week I am shooting fireworks: Literally and Figuratively.
The PGI Convention is in Gillette, WY this week and I have secured on-site access to do a little practice on the elusive fireworks that frequent so many summer celebrations.
Random Observations and Tips:
- Fireworks competitions are far easier to shoot than civic displays. You can isolate individual blasts as they come one-at-a-time. The 12 inch shell pictured above is an excellent example. The time between allows you to set for the next shot and listening to the announcers can give you valuable clues as to shell size and field of view.
- Long Exposures work best on isolated charges shot at wide angle while short exposures work better on many bursts in the air at once and on telephoto shots. I have used shutter speeds as short as 1/125th and as long as 20 seconds.
- ISOs tend to be in the middle: 200-400.
- F-stops also work best in the middle: F4- F8. On long time exposures F11-F16 are common
- Wide-angle is king in fireworks photography. Most of the work I am doing is either 15mm Fisheye or 17-40mm Zoom.
- Tripods are a must and remote releases are a convenience that can’t be overlooked.
- Flashlights or head lamps are very helpful in finding your way out after the show is over.
- Memory cards and plenty of them. The shooting is fast and having ready-to-insert cards in your right pocket and full cards in your left pocket is a great way to keep up on the action.
- Two Cameras are better than one. You can have a wide shot on the entire display and a tight shot on individual burst. Remote timers aid this process greatly.
OK- Confession: The fireworks are composited into this
‘Strobist‘ style self-portrait. Do you know how hard
it is to get fireworks in when using a 10 second timer?
I will be posting a gallery of fireworks shots shortly and offering a few tips for post production for firework pics in image editing software as well. That will have to wait until I return from this expedition and process the many images and video captured there.
Rikk Flohr © 2008