Fireworks, best way to capture?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by BosseBe, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. BosseBe

    BosseBe Mu-43 Regular

    109
    Aug 7, 2015
    Stockholm, Sweden
    On New years eve I tried to take some photos of the fireworks from my balcony (on the 8:th floor but really more like 10 floors from the ground), mind the fireworks are spontaneous so you don't know where they will appear.

    I set up my G6 with the shortest lens I currently have, Panasonic 14-42. at widest range as I had read that wider is better for fireworks, used my tripod and a remote release.
    What I ended up with was 14mm @ f5.6 ISO 800 and A mode.
    (I don't this was the best set up so that's why I'm posting this.)

    Taking pictures of spontaneous fireworks isn't easy! You don't know when they will appear or where.

    The pictures here are from some fireworks that nearly scared the **** out of me, someone on the ground about 20-30 meters from my apartment building shot the fireworks straight up!
    They exploded right in front of me as it felt, I was considering running inside and closing the door and get a bucket of water.
    But I stayed and tried to capture it!

    P*_WWW.jpg are JPEG from the camera shrunk to 1024*.
    P*_P_WWW.jpg shrunk to 1024* are after my attempts of post-processing. :)
    I've changed the WB and increased the Black in Rawtherapee and cropped some from the right side to get a better composition. (Not all the same for all pictures.)


    Now to the question, what should I have done differently?
    ISO at lowest (160)?
    f8 to 22?
    Both these would get a longer exposure and would have been beneficial to getting a shot of the fireworks, now was I just clicked the button and hoped to get it.

    All critique, comments and suggestions are welcome. (I'm still learning.)

    P1030140_WWW.
    P1030145_WWW.
    P1030149_WWW.

    Processed

    P1030140_P_WWW.
    P1030145_P_WWW.
    P1030149_P_WWW.

    /Bosse
     
  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    They look too short an exposure to me. A longer exposure gives more interesting streaks and gives more room for timing. Aim for about 4 seconds. I doubt aperture needs to go much smaller than f/8 to get sufficient DoF.

    Use MF to set and forget focus, you want to be timing shots and not have to worry about AF.

    Try to spot the fireworks launching vertically and release the shutter when they go up - that way you can get the full burst in the long exposure.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. BosseBe

    BosseBe Mu-43 Regular

    109
    Aug 7, 2015
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Thanks, wjiang.
    Longer exposure is surely the way to go.

    Will manual focus decrease the time between shutter release and the picture taken? (It should, shouldn't it?)
    In that case it will surely help. My reaction times are not the best any longer (55 years old).

    /Bosse
     
  4. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Tripod tripod tripod. Shutter Priority mode, 4 second exposure. f8. Manual focus. Press shutter just before the firework explodes. Turn IS off. I got all this from wijang as well and planned this out beautifully for the NYE fireworks, only to be told at the gate by some jobsworth that all tripods were banned, but that's another story.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    MF is important because AF may fail or be slow due to darkness, and may not focus correctly because there's no fireworks in the target area.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    ISO at lowest 100-200 ISO, F/8.0, shutter times from 1 - 6 seconds. I manually focus about a 1/3 of the way into the scene and leave it there. I like to use a cable or wireless remote shutter where I control how long the shutter is open.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    Fireworks is one area that I shoot Manual. As mentioned above, I set a longer shutter and wait for the "launch." Try a few and refine the settings. Once you have them, it is all a matter of timing.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. dlpruk

    dlpruk Mu-43 Regular

    Longer exposure, as suggested, and you might want to try exposing when you hear a bang so that you avoid burning-out the initial burst and maximise the trails. (The speed of sound gives the perfect delay.)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. BosseBe

    BosseBe Mu-43 Regular

    109
    Aug 7, 2015
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Thank you all for your replies.
    I did use a cable remote for triggering the photos, I'll have to read up on using it to vary the length of the exposure (I guess that is what's called B-mode?).
    Manual mode and focus, that is now on the list of things to learn.

    Now if it wasn't to so long until next new year :(. (But wait isn't there some at Easter?) :)

    /Bosse
     
  10. dlpruk

    dlpruk Mu-43 Regular

    I can't remember having a B setting when I had a G6 but S set to 2 seconds should be fine to highlight the trails from a single firework - or a shade longer if you want to record hundreds of them.
     
  11. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    655
    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Mike
    Lowest possible ISO, manual focus manual mode with relatively small aperture (F8 or less) & fairly long time. - I'd prefer longer than 4s, as it increases the chance of getting a firework! Exposures mustn't be long enough to give correct exposures as per the meter, you generally want dark backgrounds.

    I'd probably have used a longer focal length & only gone for one of the locations, but make sure not to frame too tightly.

    My best result was at 15s f16, with the fireworks going off at twilight
    7563498030_77758fe115_n. Jubilee fireworks by Mike Kanssen, on Flickr
    Unfortunately twilight skies are rarely available with fireworks over here. :(
     
  12. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I'd say the exposure length depends on the duration and density of blooms. Locally we only get displays with small blooms fairly close together. With a 15s exposure you'd just get a messy confetti of light...

    The fireworks I see on TV from bigger cities around the world (even Disneyland come to think of it) are much larger, spaced out and launched higher so a longer exposure is more impressive.
     
  13. P1011045_easyHDR. This type of photography has a lot of different approaches toward getting it done. You really need to just try some stuff...not easy when you may only get 1 or 2 chances a year. After doing this a couple of times, I would make a few recommendations. First would be to scout the location and find your best spots to set up in. This may take some compromise, as you may run into police not allowing you to access that spot. People forget that there's live sparks coming down. Nice to be close, but not too close. Also watch the wind and stay up wind from the location, as this will help keep you from getting rained on by the ashes. When I've been able to shoot our local fireworks, the location is in the city park and any close access is very limited for safety reasons. I got lucky this year and was able to get probably closer than I should have and I ended up using the Rok 7.5, which was perfect. As for settings, low ISO, aperture at f 8 or 11, shutter on Bulb, used a cable release, and just kept trying different length exposures..usually 5 seconds or longer. I would wait for the mortar shell take off, hold the button down, and watch between the time displayed on the screen (Oly M10) and what was going on. With enough activity, just keep shooting and trying different length exposures. I'm not certain but it seemed like longer exposures tended to lose a bit of the color in the display..not sure though. I tried processing one of the tiffs in EasyHDR, as an LDR file, and it really brought out some color. Exposure time here was about 8 seconds at f8...ISO200
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2016
  14. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    655
    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Mike
    Mine was from a small village display. If the new year fireworks at the London eye are anything to go by a long exposure at big displays is likely to be pure white!
     
  15. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    It might depend on how high they launch them, how far they explode, how much they space them, etc. Experimentation using live time/bulb definitely helps to start off with.
     
  16. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    655
    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Mike
    I'd certainly agree with that! Shame I don't have live time available, but even without bulb is probably still the best approach.
     
  17. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    Too long an exposure will often result in blown out highlights. Fireworks are actually pretty bright, even though the surrounding night sky is not. The trick is to balance both to get the best color highlights you can and let the rest of the scene go where it will. The only time I go with very long exposure is when there is a chance to catch multiple bursts in one frame. My starting mix is usually: tripod - mandatory, f/8 or f/11, 4 seconds exposure - to be adjusted after a few tests, focus on infinity, ISO 200, zoom in tight on the bursts, experiment with WB - either daylight or tungsten - AWB doesn't work very well. After a few shots, I chimp the images and adjust as needed. After that it is just shoot, shoot, shoot and hope for a few really good ones. The timing will dictate whether I get full bursts, too early or too late. Oh, and have fun.
     
  18. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Handy tip, duly noted.
     
  19. I would add that shooting RAW sidesteps the WB issue and gives a little more leeway for exposure correction. If you're able to fill the frame fairly well with the display and keep extraneous lighting to a minimum, you'll stand as much of a chance getting WB close with auto as you will in a fixed setting.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  20. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    I'd say longer exposure time. I generally shoot at lower ISO and higher fstop. I generally don't like to go beyond f8 though.

    3s, ISO 200, auto WB, f6.3

    I just used the 2s timer with anti-shock on and was able to time the fireworks.

    full.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
    • Like Like x 1