As promised here is an image editing tip regarding post production of fireworks photography. It doesn’t matter which image editing software you use for this technique as most major pixel pushers can accomplish this task. For my example today, I am using Corel PhotoPaint. I will provide a glossary for the PSP folks and the Adobe inclined.
Above is a shell from a competition at the PGI Convention in Gillette, Wyoming this August. It is a long time exposure of a distant burst. But, as you can see it occupies very little of the frame.
Here is a shot of a closer display with some figures in the foreground. Again, it is a shot where there is a lot of empty space on the left side.
Firework photography allows for some easy trickery in the editing department. Most of the time, the background of a fireworks shot is black, or at minimum very dark. This allows you take advantage of Merge Modes. (PS, PSE, PSP=Blending Modes) Blend Modes control the way Objects (PS, PSE, PSP=Layers) interact with the objects or background below them.
Amongst the many choices of Merge Modes, is something called “Screen”. Screen is just what it says it is. Imaging a projector shining an image onto a projection screen. Now imagine a second projector shines another image on top the first. Where the projector is sending nothing (or black, if you prefer) the addition results in black. Everywhere you have light, the light overlaps and adds to what has been projected before.
In this screen capture from the Objects Docker (PS, PSE, PSP = Layers Palette). It shows how to assemble a composite of fireworks images. The two individual images are placed in a single image file on separate objects. The top object has its Merge Mode set to Screen. This allows tonal values to be added from the top object to the visible objects beneath.
The final composite shows how effectively the fireworks images combine using the Screen Mode. Individual shell bursts can be combined to create massive carpets of stunning fireworks using the Screen Merge Mode. You can keep a library of shots from emerging shells, full bursts and fading explosions to ‘fill-in’ empty places to make a more pleasing composition.
Layer your fireworks shots and combine them using the Screen Mode.
“It is time for the folks at Corel to commonize terminology with their and other’s image editing suites. PSP uses the Adobe nomenclature (by and large) for naming various tasks and constructs. Users too often get bogged down by the difference in vocabulary of image editing when we use very similar syntax. This reduces the learning curve and makes wealth of tutorial material cross compatible.”
Rikk Flohr © 2008