Best practices for shooting fireworks?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by VirtualRain, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #1
    I shot some fireworks tonight.

    I was setup across the bay (Spanish Banks) with my tripod rooted in the sand, bag suspended from underneath for added stability, 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM lens, and my RC1 remote triggering the shutter on my 7D.

    I was using shutter speeds of either 2.5 or 3.2 seconds (tried some of each) and f-stops of 5.6 and 8.

    The exposure worked fine and one in five images turned out nice and sharp like the following...

    [​IMG]

    However, 4 in 5 pictures suffered from some some kind of movement and came out blurry (note the buildings below) which I have to assume is shake from the mirror or some artifact of leaving Image Stabilization on (didn't even think of that until I got home)...

    [​IMG]

    What's your thoughts as to what's causing this blur? Should I lock up the mirror? Should I keep IS off when on the tripod?

    Any other thoughts?
     
  2. TWLreal macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    #2
    Mirror slap is a non-issue at those shutter speeds. It's only between 1/60 and about 1/2 or thereabouts that it will be useful to use mirror lock-up.

    Yes, image stabilization should be turned off when on a tripod or stable surface, regardless of if it's meant to detect no movement and turn off by itself. Your user manual should even state that.

    It's probably wind or the stabilization unit. But 4 out of 5 photos being blurry on a well deployed tripod sounds excessive.
     
  3. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

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    #3
    Unless that last photo is a very heavy crop, that much blur can't be just from the IS being on or the mirror slap. How sturdy is your tripod? Were you using the central column up? Was there any wind? Did you leave the camera strap hanging off the camera in the wind? Did you pull on the remote trigger's cord during the exposure?
     
  4. billtanderson macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Croydon, UK
    #4
    One technique I have heard described, but not tried yet it to leave the shutter open for much longer, but use a black card or hat or something to cover the lens when you don't want any exposure, so you can add multiple 2 or 3 second exposures on one actual exposure.

    I'm not sure that would help with the stabilization problem you were getting though.
     
  5. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #6
    NEVER EVER use IS on the tripod. The images will turn out blurry! I learned that the hard way (I hadn't used any lenses with IS before the 24-105L).

    MLU is also vital. I am positive the IS hosed you, unless there was some fierce wind when you shot these.

    I like the first one, BTW! Good job.
     
  6. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #7
    I made my first serious attempt at fireworks this year. I took basically the same route you did except for a few differences. I turned off IS. Set focus to infinity (had exposure on manual). Aperture was f/14 and ISO was 100. The shutter was in bulb mode and I used a wireless remote. Exposures were from 2 seconds to 11 seconds. The tip I read was to use bulb mode and try to time the shutter to open right before a burst and then close it at full bloom. If you wanted multiple bursts you keep the shutter open longer. My results are here http://jddavis.zenfolio.com/p340117997. Honestly 1 in 5 for keepers was about my ratio as well but it was more to do with the quality of the fireworks not really blurryness.

    I think you just had some accidental vibration in there. A wireless remote may help. I didn't lock up the mirror on mine. I like the first one as well, it's a nice shot.
     
  7. SpAtZ macrumors regular

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    Feb 3, 2006
    Location:
    NY
    #8
  8. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

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    Location:
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    #9
    Also if your camera has a shutter delay mode where the mirror goes up and the shutter is triggered .3 seconds later that can help. When enabled your camera will make three click-click-click sounds as the mirror goes up, then the shutter and finally both come down. Also once you are finished reviewing images, make sure you camera is not moving at all. With a long lens any shake will be noticed.
     
  9. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Aug 1, 2008
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    Vancouver, BC
  10. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
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    SLC
    #11
    here are 2 that I took on the 4th in 2005 with an EOS-3 while a bit drunk.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Kronie macrumors 6502a

    Kronie

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    Dec 4, 2008
    #12
    f/11, ISO 100, 1-5 second exposures on bulb works best for me.
     
  12. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #13
    I had much better luck this Sat. night. Thanks for everyone's suggestions! I moved closer, used my trusty 17-55 lens, turned IS off, and used 5 second exposures at f13. It didn't hurt that the pyrotechnics seemed much better and more colorful last night.

    Here are a few...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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  14. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #15
    Great shots VirtualRain :).

    Not a criticism of you directly but I think fireworks are the one thing that are entirely impossible to catch on film. There's just so much more to the experience - the sounds, smell, anticipation, cast light, perspective etc. When I look at photographs of fireworks it always feels like they're missing what gives them their life and excitement. There's a lot of things for which this applies but for me for fireworks it is the most marked.
     
  15. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a

    cosmokanga2

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    Location:
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    #16
    A lot better than my results from that night. Nice job!
     
  16. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #17
    Thanks.

    @Andy... I completely agree that still images of fireworks don't do them justice... there's nothing like the real thing. However, I find still images of fireworks fascinating in their own way... it's a different perspective on it.
     
  17. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #18
    Nice Sat night pics, were you in an apartment in English Bay or just standing up on the street? Did you figure out whether it was IS on a tripod that caused the blur from your Spanish Banks night?
     
  18. xStep macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2003
    Location:
    Less lost in L.A.
    #19
    Looking at the lights of the buildings suggest that the tripod was moved. I think at least one footing gave way a little bit. The first picture wasn't visible to me when I saw your post, so I'm judging by the second picture. Looks like the focus was off too, so I agree with the others about turning off the automation.

    I like the shots from Saturday. Especially the blue fire works. I miss those summer fireworks shows.
     
  19. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Location:
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    #20
    I followed in cosmokanga2's footsteps and shot from the small parking lot just above sunset beach... Beach Ave level. I think IS must have been a key factor in my failings on Wed as I had it off on Sat and the keeper rate was only a function of my timing. All shots were super sharp even with a 5sec shutter vs 3.2sec last time. I was setup on the sand the first night so perhaps that was a factor but nothing was touching the tripod or camera at all (wireless remote shutter release). I really think the IS on my 70-300 doesn't like being on a tripod.
     

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