Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shooting fireworks

Many moons ago, my buddy from way back when, Wayne Clarke, who was at the time working for a newspaper called "The Swansea Gazette". This was one of the free newspapers which pretty much went downhill after a long period of decline then ended up being sold to another newspaper which promptly closed it.

The phone rang with Wayne enquiring whether a fireworks session would be acceptable. Thus, we headed off to the fireworks display one fine November 5th. For those that don't know, November 5th or more commonly "Fireworks Day" is officially called "Guy Fawkes Day". In a nutshell, it commemorates the execution in 1605 of Guido Fawkes for his involvement in a plot to blow up the British Houses of Parliament. His execution was rather gruesome as he was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Following this it became law that everybody should celebrate his execution day and thus Guy Fawkes Day was born. There is considerable debate as to the degree of involvement that Guido Fawkes had with the affair with some claiming he was a fall guy set up by the main gang.

Having said that, the advice given by my old buddy remains good to this day. For fireworks:
  • Wait until after dark or near dark before beginning to photograph them. 
  • Set the lens aperture to the smallest aperture - normally 22 or 32.
  • Set the camera on a tripod.
  • Set the shutter to B or T.
  • Watch to see where the main bursts are exploding and aim the camera at those bursts. Other bursts will usually appear in the same area.
  • Don't use a long lens or a wide lens. Stick with something about 35mm - 50mm in 35mm format or 18 - 35 in digital 1.5/1.6 crop format.

Open the shutter for long enough to capture one or two bursts then close it. The following are samples done using this technique.

This one even has the National Parks warden enthralled. This was taken at Dreher Island, South Carolina on July 4th one year.

This was the parade of boats. The boats are moving. The camera is not. Thus the boats have made streaks of light across the frame.

Above all, have fun and don't be afraid to experiment. That's what photography is all about - having fun and experimenting. Nobody ever makes money from photography on a consistent basis so don't worry about taking salable images. Take images that you will enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment