FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Topic ClosedPhotographing fireworks with a digital camera

Author
kiklop View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Dyxum owner

Joined: 14 July 2005
Country: Croatia
Location: Rovinj
Status: Offline
Posts: 10563
Direct Link To This Post Topic: Photographing fireworks with a digital camera
    Posted: 07 July 2011 at 18:27
Thanks to gaging for his comprehensive list about how to photograph fireworks.

Originally posted by gaging gaging wrote:

Here is a list of tips that I have accumulated over the years:



Photographing fireworks with a digital camera

  1. Do some homework first. It is best if you have some prior knowledge of where the fireworks will be shot off and where you can position yourself for a clear view.

  2. If the wind is blowing, try to position yourself at right angles to the wind. As the wind carries the bursts through the air from side-to-side, the bursts will be more separated and make a larger image in your photos than if the bursts are carried toward or away from you. More importantly, the smoke will blow out of the frame more quickly. This helps to achieve cleaner fireworks shots, because the bright bursts tend to illuminate smoke from previous bursts.

  3. Don’t get too close to the fireworks or you might not be able to include everything within the frame. Also, if you are aiming at too steep of an angle, it is difficult to include anything in the foreground. To photograph fireworks from a typical distance of approximately 1/4 mile away from the launch site, I suggest a zoom lens that covers approximately 28mm to 70mm range (full-frame equivalent) in portrait position to catch both the foreground and the fireworks bursts in their various positions. With the camera in landscape position, you should plan to stay back further or use a shorter focal length lens. You can always zoom in a little if you need to.

  4. Try to position yourself to have something interesting in the foreground. A photo that only includes fireworks bursts and sky isn’t as interesting as a photo of fireworks enhancing a foreground subject. The reflection of fireworks in water makes a nice foreground. You can often include people in the foreground. Do your best to avoid having power lines or other obstructions within the image.

  5. Use a tripod and remote release. You can use the camera’s timer instead of a shutter release, but it will take more time and cause you to take fewer photos. It will also require you to use a fixed exposure time instead of using “Bulb” to manually control the exposure length.

  6. Use long exposure noise reduction for cleaner images.

  7. Use the “Continuous Advance” drive mode. This is important because it will allow much faster times between shots. Continuous Advance drive mode allows you to initiate a new exposure while the camera is doing the dark-frame subtraction noise reduction on the previous exposure. If you use “Single-Shot Advance” drive mode, you can’t initiate a new exposure until the dark-frame subtraction noise reduction is complete. With Single-Shot drive mode, you will needlessly spend a lot of time between shots waiting for the “processing” display to go off.

  8. I recommend using auto review to be able to monitor whether the framing is correct. Otherwise, you must periodically review manually, which takes more time. You can start another exposure as soon as the auto review image appears. You do not need to wait for the auto review display to go off by itself.

  9. ISO should be at the lowest available setting. Do not use auto ISO.

  10. White balance should be set for a tungsten light source to enhance warm colors (reds, oranges, and yellows), or daylight to enhance cool colors (blues and greens). I do not recommend using auto white balance.

  11. Use manual focus set on infinity. Do not use autofocus. Even if autofocus in very low light could be achieved, manual focus will be faster.

  12. Use manual exposure. Do not use any auto exposure mode.

  13. I recommend the shutter speed be set on “Bulb”. This gives great versatility in controlling the number of bursts that are recorded, and I find it works much better than using a fixed shutter speed. I try to open the shutter when I hear or see the fireworks first being launched. Then, the rising light trail from the ground to the fireworks burst is also recorded. When the fireworks are choreographed to music it is sometimes possible to anticipate when the fireworks will be launched. I usually close the shutter after 2 or 3 bursts are complete, but it depends on the frequency of the bursts. Too many bursts in the same area of an image will make a more cluttered image that can become overexposed.

    Shutter speed does not generally affect the exposure of the fireworks bursts themselves. Fireworks are light trails that streak across the photo very fast. Each streak is only impinging on a given photosite for a brief (but pretty consistent) time, regardless of how long the shutter is open. For fireworks photography, the shutter speed primarily affects how many bursts will be in the photo and/or the length of the light trails.

    Shutter speed does affect the exposure of the foreground, and with twilight sky, the sky itself. With a twilight sky, a longer exposure will make a clear sky dark blue instead of black.

    Keep the shutter open longer for infrequent bursts, but if there is a twilight sky, watch out for possible overexposure of the sky and foreground.

    When a lot of fireworks are in the sky at once (like in a finale), you should keep the shutter open for a shorter time to prevent blow-out of the image from too many fireworks in the same part of the image.

  14. Exposure of the light trails is primarily controlled by the camera’s aperture. From my experience, an f-stop of f/16 at an ISO speed of 100 seems to give the best exposure of the fireworks light trails. When using a different ISO, adjust accordingly. For slightly sharper photos with reduced diffraction, you can use f/5.6 plus a three stop ND filter, f/8 plus a two-stop ND filter, or f/11 plus a one-stop ND filter. If you don’t have an ND filter, you can use f/11 plus a polarizer. The aperture setting is important to prevent blow-out of the center of each light trail in the image. When viewing at 100%, overexposed light streaks will have a white center and colored edges, causing washed-out colors (see the first example below). Proper exposure gives nice saturated colors.

  15. Photographing fireworks is kind of a hit or miss process. You never know when or how fast the next bursts will come, and you have no control of what they will look like. You are simply setting up your camera to record what appears before you. The best technique is to take a lot of photos to ensure you will have some good ones.



    Some examples:

    Warning: In the examples below, there were various combinations of aperture and ND filters used, giving effective apertures that were different than what is listed in the EXIF. The aperture listed in the EXIF is only correct for the first example with the overexposed light streaks.



    EXIF:
    Camera Maker: SONY
    Camera Model: DSC-F828
    Image Date: 2004-07-04 21:43:12 -0500
    Focal Length: 23mm
    Aperture: f/8.0
    Exposure Time: 0.800 s
    ISO equiv: 64
    Exposure Bias: none
    Metering Mode: Center Weight
    Exposure: Manual
    Exposure Mode: Manual
    White Balance: Manual
    Light Source: Incandescent
    Flash Fired: No (enforced)
    Orientation: Normal
    Color Space: sRGB



    EXIF:
    Camera Maker: SONY
    Camera Model: DSC-F828
    Image Date: 2005-07-04 22:22:25 +0000
    Focal Length: 7.1mm
    Aperture: f/8.0
    Exposure Time: 3.000 s
    ISO equiv: 64
    Exposure Bias: none
    Metering Mode: Matrix
    Exposure: Manual
    Exposure Mode: Manual
    White Balance: Manual
    Light Source: Incandescent
    Flash Fired: No (enforced)
    Orientation: Normal
    Color Space: sRGB



    EXIF:
    Camera Maker: SONY
    Camera Model: DSC-F828
    Image Date: 2006-07-04 22:33:39 +0000
    Focal Length: 10.9mm
    Aperture: f/4.0
    Exposure Time: 4.000 s
    ISO equiv: 64
    Exposure Bias: none
    Metering Mode: Matrix
    Exposure: Manual
    Exposure Mode: Manual
    White Balance: Manual
    Light Source: Daylight
    Flash Fired: No (enforced)
    Orientation: Normal
    Color Space: sRGB


    EXIF:
    Camera Maker: SONY
    Camera Model: DSLR-A350
    Lens: 28-135mm F4-4.5
    Image Date: 2010-07-04 22:22:23 -0400
    Focal Length: 35mm (35mm equivalent: 52mm)
    Aperture: f/8.0
    Exposure Time: 4.000 s
    ISO equiv: 100
    Exposure Bias: none
    Metering Mode: Matrix
    Exposure: Manual
    Exposure Mode: Manual
    White Balance: Manual
    Light Source: Incandescent
    Flash Fired: No (enforced)
    Orientation: Normal
    Color Space: sRGB



Edited by Frankman - 16 July 2011 at 03:04
 



Back to Top
Dyxum main page >  Forum Home > Dyxum Community > Knowledge Base

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.063 seconds.

Monitor calibration strip

Dyxum.com - Home of the alpha system photographer

In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania

Feel free to contact us if needed.