Fireworks photography - hints and tips needed (OMD E-M5)

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by maflynn, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. maflynn

    maflynn Mu-43 Regular

    May 7, 2012
    Being an owner of the OMD EM5, I'd like some hints and tips on firework photography.

    Olympus has these tips
    Brilliant Fireworks Photos: E-System

    but I'd like a lithe more info.
    what ISO do you like to shoot at,
    should I use my 14-42 kit lens or the 45mm prime?
    If the prime what aperture, wide open or something towards the middle.
    Do you recommend a tripod and if so, should it be considered a requirement or can I get by without one?

    I've never used the live bulb mode, how do I start and/or stop that?

  2. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Real Name:
    Wait a moment! Following the link, Fireworks mode does this:
    So let me get this straight, Fireworks mode sets all the following:
    • The shutter speed is fixed (4s)
    • The ISO is fixed (100)
    • The aperture is fixed (f/11).
    So what the flunk does setting the EV compensation to -1 actually do?

    I've not photographed fireworks with me OM-D but I've used Live Time. Very easy. Go to M Manual, Select Live Time as the shutter speed. Use a remote release if you have one. Press once to start and once to stop the exposure. And in between watch the image getting brighter and more fireworks appearing on the screen. Beware long write times after the exposure.

    I also use a Myset for tripod work with IS=OFF, ISO=200, Anti-Shock(1/8)=ON, AF=MF.

    The Multi Exposure mode might be useful for Fireworks too. I've not tried it.

    Someone asked a similar question here.
  3. sammykhalifa

    sammykhalifa Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    Pittsburgh PA
    Real Name:
    . . . and make sure you're not standing behind a tree from where the fireworks are going to go off. :/

  4. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Real Name:
    You're kidding right? The silhouette framing adds a ton of character to that shot!
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Ian.: I facepalmed on the same -1 Exp. Comp. comment as well! :/ Now, you could use Shutter Priority and Exposure Comp, but that would of course be inconsistent with the rest of his settings which includes f/11. Personally, I always use manual. Consistent shutter speed, then stop down the aperture when the fireworks get brighter. I don't trust the camera to know the effect I'm going for with such wildly changing exposure values caused by the firing of different sized fireworks.

    Maflynn: You asked about ISO.. There is no reason to use anything but base ISO as you are shooting slower shutter speeds for fireworks to get the trails of light.
  6. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Real Name:
    I've had by far my best results using moderately long exposures on a tripod.
    This one is my favorite:
    Taken at 15s f16 ISO100

    I would certainly prefer the kit lens as the 45 doesn't give any option for zooming out for a wider view, though if yopu'll be a long way from the fireworks it might be OK. The above shot was ~27mm effective focal length, though some of the others taken in the same session were zoomed closer.

    On many previous occations I'd tried with out a tripod, forcing me to use shorter exposures (~1/5s or quicker) and the results were generally very disapointing.

    Bulb mode is controlled via a external cable as described by Ian, but make sure you get the right one for your camera, for such a simple gadget there's a suprisingly wide variety of ways of implementing it.
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  7. sammykhalifa

    sammykhalifa Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    Pittsburgh PA
    Real Name:
    Thanks. I do like this one. Many of the others were more behind. Of course, that was before the smoke clouds built up too. I missed a lot of the show. Heh.

    I used a MF (Konica 57 at about f7.1) lens on these with a shutter time of about 1-4 seconds for the most part. It worked well but I would have liked to experiment on some longer exposure times as well.
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Another thing I like, which others will complain about, is getting people's heads in the shot. It makes a really nice frame of people's silhouettes, watching the fireworks.
  9. maflynn

    maflynn Mu-43 Regular

    May 7, 2012
    Thanks guys, for the info and advice :)
  10. Azimuth

    Azimuth Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 12, 2012
    Thornbury, Victoria
    I am going to do some experimenting this month as the city has fireworks on every Friday night.

    here is one method I want to try:

    - camera set to Live Bulb shutter speed
    - wired shutter release
    - piece of black cardboard.

    My plan is to keep the exposure running with the cardboard covering the lens. As the fireworks explode I will remove the cardboard to capture each burst.

    Live Bulb should be useful here as it will allow me to view the scene developing and I can stop the exposure when it looks like I want it to and/or the exposure is in danger of being too bright.
  11. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    Since you are using the E-M5 use MANUAL mode, set low ISO, experiment with the aperture, and use Live Bulb with a wired release!

    Forget all this nonsense about setting shutter speeds or exposure have a capera that is superir to every oter camera on the market...take advantage of the tools you have!
  12. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    Sunshine Coast, Qld Australia
    Real Name:
    Any more suggestions for fireworks shooting?
  13. GreenGhost

    GreenGhost Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 30, 2012
    Real Name:
    Peter Liakopoulos
    I shot this hand held with my P14/2.5 1/40sec f2.5 ISO1600.

    <a href="" title="P2010182.jpg by IIGreenGhostII, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="600" alt="P2010182.jpg"></a>
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    There are a million YouTube videos on the subject...Google FIREWORKS PHOTOGRAPHY TUTORIAL.

    But if you learn how Live Bulb works, you don't need those other tricks!
  15. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    Live view, live view, live's your best friend, along with a tripod and remote shutter.
  16. Mr Chuck

    Mr Chuck Mu-43 Rookie

    May 21, 2013
    Rome (Italy)
    here you can see some fireworks shot taken some weeks ago. i used a tripod and remote shutter. camera set on 100iso, f2.5, 2sec.