Good settings for fireworks photos?

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Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:51 am

This is the first time I will be attempting something like this. I'll be using the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

The fireworks are tonight for Canada Day and I would really like to know what would be a good setting for shooting fireworks.

Thanks.

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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:22 am

lex-ington wrote:This is the first time I will be attempting something like this. I'll be using the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

The fireworks are tonight for Canada Day and I would really like to know what would be a good setting for shooting fireworks.

Thanks.

I have a Sony alpha 200 - specs found here



For fireworks, it often works to try and be in an area with as little ambient light as possible and set a 3-4 second shutter speed to gather the falling of the fireworks, rather than just an instantaneous capture. Being in an area with little to no other ambient light helps, obviously.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:43 pm

Fireworks are bright point-source lights and the distance from the camera will vary, so you may need to stop down a bit in order to stay in focus and avoid excessive light bloom (but not too far down, unless you want to see aperture stars). Also, you'll obviously want to manually dial in your focus point and leave it there. Bump the ISO up and take a few test shots early in the show until you work out the ideal combination of f/stop, ISO, and shutter speed settings. Got your tripod ready to go? Got a lens hood to help block out other people's camera flashes and flashlights?

Also consider how far away the show actually is -- will 70mm be too narrow for you to capture the finale?

Just suggestions, some of my best night exposures have been in the 20-35mm range with f/11-f/14 and 6-10 seconds of shutter, but that involved still subjects. Fireworks put out intense light, but only briefly.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:15 pm

A few things:

don't always expose for x seconds. Too much exposure all the time will make all of your shots look the same. Do some shorter ones, try to catch the initial explosion a few times, let the whole lifecycle on a few of them, etc.

Here's something I've been meaning to try:

Get in a spot with a nice backdrop with as little artificial light as possible.
Set your rig up so that your field of view will see all of the fireworks and your nice backdrop, use tripod.
Set your ISO as low as you can wile still getting good pictures (to lower noise on ultra-long exposures)
Now manually block the lens with a black cloth or something and open the shutter.
Whenever you see a good picture, unblock the lens. When the moment has past, cover it back up. repeat until you are satisfied. The fireworks will "stack" in the image, and their light will expose the foreground and background, too.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:36 pm

For the higher speed shots, definitely use the continuous shooting mode. For my own pictures, my Canon 5D can store like 15 or so shots in RAM before it has to stop to write them to flash. I dunno how much RAM your camera has, but getting a 4-5 continuous shot window would be good for fireworks.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:50 pm

I won't have a tripod since I'm taking my son (lots of running around). The fireworks I'm going to will be in a small square (Mel Lastman Square) but have tons of people since there are SO MANY condo buildings in the area.

It seems from the commensts that my normal 18-70mm lens would suffice \9and its much lighter to carry). I'll try my best, see how it goes.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:22 pm

Fireworks without a steady rest mean lots of blurry pictures.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:01 pm

Some of the resources linked here may be helpful:
http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/phot ... raphy.html
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:24 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:A few things:Here's something I've been meaning to try:

Get in a spot with a nice backdrop with as little artificial light as possible.
Set your rig up so that your field of view will see all of the fireworks and your nice backdrop, use tripod.
Set your ISO as low as you can wile still getting good pictures (to lower noise on ultra-long exposures)
Now manually block the lens with a black cloth or something and open the shutter.
Whenever you see a good picture, unblock the lens. When the moment has past, cover it back up. repeat until you are satisfied. The fireworks will "stack" in the image, and their light will expose the foreground and background, too.

Interesting concept, I like. Sort of a variation on the still foreground/blurry background obtained from firing a flash during a short time-exposure shot.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:26 pm

In the digital age, you can do double exposures in post processing, instead of resorting to such chicanery while shooting.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:23 pm

Well, it's tomorrow, but fireworks pictures can come out really well. The right settings depend on conditions and the effect you are going for. Fireworks will light up the environment, but it depends how big/bright the fireworks are and how close objects in the environment are. Short exposures will capture sharper fireworks, but will be dimmer. Long exposures will be very bright, but will reveal trails and whatnot. Medium shutter lengths will split the difference. Again, long, short, and medium are relative to conditions. Also note that fireworks have lots of bright points of light. If your sensor, lens, or filter(s) are prone to flare, chromatic aberration, and/or blooming, take steps to mitigate them. Don't just blindly take filters off of your cameras, though; if you're close to the fireworks, remnants can hit your lens; small chance, but worth considering at least briefly.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:30 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:In the digital age, you can do double exposures in post processing, instead of resorting to such chicanery while shooting.

IMO said "chicanery" is the basis of really learning the technique. There's a difference between being a graphic artist and being a photographer. I like both aspects of the hobby, but sometimes your odds of getting the "right" shot are amplified by being able to use the camera creatively at the moment(s) when the action happens.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:50 pm

Having twins has dramatically reduced the time I have to nerd out.
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:00 am

Here are a few of the shots I took. ambient light was everywhere - no getting around it, and a non stop supply of people bumping into me. :evil: (It was a very busy night)

1. http://s978.photobucket.com/albums/ae26 ... newest%3D1
2. http://s978.photobucket.com/albums/ae26 ... newest%3D1
3. http://s978.photobucket.com/albums/ae26 ... newest%3D1
4. http://s978.photobucket.com/albums/ae26 ... newest%3D1

I think this is the proper link to all of them: http://s978.photobucket.com/albums/ae265/conchpapa/
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Re: Good settings for fireworks photos?

Postposted on Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:35 am

It looks like the biggest problems that night were that you were in a bad spot to capture the fireworks, and you took them handheld as opposed to sitting the camera on a tripod. If people bump into you, what you need to do is think ahead for next time and build a perimeter around your space. I've done this with backpacks, lawn chairs, bags, etc.; anything to make people feel uncomfortable about getting too close. Then you have a nice little area that people won't violate.

Anyway, next time you should use a tripod and find a better vantage point from which to take pictures.
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