Sunday, April 1, 2012

How I Got The Shot #4 - FIREWORKS!

Everyone loves fireworks, right?  Sometimes fireworks shots can be tricky to get if you don't have a good starting point.  I'll outline my approach to getting fireworks here.

Check out the details after the break...
Creative Process:
No real creative process, just want to get some pictures of some interesting fireworks.

Location:
A local park in the city that I live.  I arrived about 20 minutes before the show began.

Gear:
Nikon D300
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6
Slik A804CF Carbon Fiber Tripod
Slik AF2100 Trigger Grip Ball Head
(I normally recommend a cable release or wireless remote trigger, but I forgot mine - so the work around is I set the camera timer for a 2 second delay - this removed camera shake from the equation).

EXIF Info:
Shot in Manual Mode at 5 seconds  - f/13 - ISO 200 @ 55mm
Shot in RAW

Lighting Setup:
Just the ambient lighting of the buildings in front and the fireworks themselves.  If you had some interesting foreground elements, you could light them up with a strobe or do some light painting techniques.  All that is up to you.

The big thing to keep in mind is that if your exposure is too long, you'll lose the colors of the fireworks.  Also, you stand the chance of over exposing and having too long a streak and too much light bleed.  There really is no formula, just a few guidelines.  So play around with the aperture and shutter speed a bit.  I find that somewhere between 3 and 8 seconds is a good shutter speed and an aperture range from f/10-f/16 is a good range to play in.

Also, use a good slow ISO.  Because you are shooting in the dark, you'll want to keep the blacks as black as possible and the noise down, so a slower, cleaner ISO is best.  This will vary depending on your camera.

Focus - given that the light is going to be sporadic, it is best to set the focus manually.  The fireworks will be far enough out that setting the focus to infinity will be your best choice.


Post Processing:
Pretty simple really.  Basic Camera RAW adjustments, some levels adjustments and we are done.  These images tend to speak for themselves so minimal post processing was done.

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