Sunday, November 30, 2008

Photo: Ka-Boom!

May 24 Fireworks

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
: 2008
Camera: Canon 40D, 17-85mm f/4-5.6 lens
Settings: ISO 200, f/8, 3 seconds, 33mm
Other: tripod

: I went to the Canada Day Fireworks this year and wanted to test out my camera. I did a bit of research into taking Fireworks and here are the key things to do.

a) Use a tripod. I insist. :) Since you are shooting in low light conditions and will want use a longer exposure, a tripod is absolutely required.
b) Setup early. Lots of people love fireworks and you will often find it hard to get a good place for pictures if you arrive late. I recommend you setup 45-60 minutes early. Find a place that will have a good direct line of the action. Remember that lots of people will be there soon so ensure your location will not have people's heads in the way. A find a small hill, at the top of stairs, etc will be good. Also ensure that you won't block anyone else's view.
c) Compose the scene. If you know where the fireworks will explode, compose your shot before hand. Ideally, I like to have something interesting in the picture as well like water, an interesting building, and sometimes it's cool to get the crowd as they as watching the display (to get the human side in your picture). You may need to readjust a few times during the shoot. Review your photos after the first few shots and after each adjustment to ensure they are in focus and have the right composure.
d) Dial in your aperture. You want a wide enough one to ensure enough light comes through, yet still have some good clarity of foreground and background. I've used f/8, but you could go down or up a stop or two and still be good. Experiment and find what will work for you.
e) Shutter release. This is the tricky part. Catching them. Now there are two ways. Set your shutter speed to 2-3 seconds, and press the button just after your one of them flying up but before they explode. However, this is hit and miss. I recommend that you get a remove shutter release (wired or wireless). Then, with the camera shutter set to "bulb" mode, all I do is press my remote to open the shutter and then press it again to close it after the firework explodes. Typically my exposure will be 2-4 seconds long.
f) ISO. As with any shot, always try to shot as ISO 100 to reduce noise. In this case, I used 200 as it worked out pretty good.

Processing: this shot had some colour cleanup in Adobe Bridge, and was cropped a bit from the original.

This site has some good info on Fireworks shots as well. Check it out.

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