First attempt at shooting fireworks

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MattSepeta, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #1
    Had a go at shooting fireworks on Saturday night. Went to go shoot the 2010 Aquatennial Fireworks show with my friend. We spent about 2 hours trying to find the right spot before we settled for our primo location directly at the waters edge by the dam. For my first ever attempt at shooting fireworks I think I did a fair job, but I certainly learned a few things.

    -Steadier ground. We were on a pile of wood to get about the shrub-lines and get a more unobstructed view of the water. It was shaky and some of the pictures show it.

    -Closer. I would like to be close next time.

    -Shorter exposures. I should have kept my shutter speed around 1/2 -> 1 1/2 seconds. Instead I ended up wildly experimenting, shooting from 1 second to 4 seconds. The longer ones are much less strong than the shorter ones.

    50D + 17-55 f/2.8.

    C&C encouraged!

    #1
    [​IMG]

    #2
    [​IMG]

    #3
    [​IMG]

    #4
    [​IMG]


    Snapped this last one while waiting for it to get dark. Funny how my favorite shot of the night was taken BEFORE the fireworks began.

    #5
    [​IMG]
     
  2. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #2
    suggestion - put #'s on your photos for easier feedback.

    I like the colors/reflections, is the boat yours or someone else?
    The boat seems to work in #2 well (which I like the best of the series), did you crop it out in the others as comparison to see which shot worked better before posting?
     
  3. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #3
    Thanks!

    Nice call on numbering the images, I edited that. Completely slipped my mind!

    The boat is not mine, they anchored directly in front of us, even though there were 2 of us with tripods set up in a blatantly obvious location :rolleyes:

    Oh well, I think it added to a few of the images. I did try cropping it out in a few, but the cropped photos ended up looking incomplete because of the cut off reflection in the water.
     
  4. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #4
    I understand it may be been impossible given your location, but it would have been nice to see some of the skyline in your shots with the bridge as well.

    I can't see the EXIF data where I am - but things seem a just a little hazy.

    Did you focus out to infinity? On Nikon lenses, you can sometimes go past infinity which can create some issues when photographing at night.

    Did you use a cable release? You could be bumping the camera when you press the shutter, causing some vibration unintentionally.

    It may also be a DOF issue, which is why I'm curious where you set your aperture. I tend to have a lot of success in my night photography at f/13+, but I think fireworks would require something a little wider open.
     
  5. filmweaver macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    #5
    Next time take a bright spotlight and put it on them, then they will see the light- pun intended.

    P.S. Great shots, nice work!
     
  6. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #6
    -I used liveview 10X magnification to manually focus on the bridge. It seemed that focusing to infinity resulted in the bursts being OOF.

    -I too would have liked seeing more of the skyline, but that would have required us to cross the river, which was not really an option lol

    -I did NOT use a cable release. That is a must buy though for next time. I started off by using 2 second remote timer, but it was impossible to get any good shots due to the random nature of the 2 second timer. I braced the tripod and tried to hit the shutter as steadily as I could.
    -I had IS turned ON. I figured that the IS would help counter the bump from hitting the shutter, and also could help compensate from the shaking of the surface we were on. Is this a correct train of thought?

    -I was experimenting with different F-stops in order to try out different shutter speeds to see which effect I liked best, I shot all the way from f/4 to f/16 IIRC... In retrospect I should have probably shot around f/11...

    Thanks! Speaking of spotlights, the people in the boat actually HAD a giant spot light that they were shining on the bridge in front of them during the fireworks! I have no idea where they got a spotlight so powerful, as the bridge was lot further away than it looks. I could not believe these guys!
     
  7. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #7
    Okay, so you have a combination of things happening here. Working backwards:

    - I can't explain the science behind it, but you should NEVER use VR/IS while on a tripod. It will actually create blur, instead of prevent it. The technology behind it needs some motion to work against.

    - The $20 (or whatever) you spend on a cable release will have an immediate impact. It is an absolute must for night/low-light photography. It's funny, when I use a tripod even during the day I sometimes find I use it just out of habit.

    - Not sure why you'd shoot (almost) wide open, but you're not creating enough DOF to get everything in focus at f/4. Your instinct is correct about f/11.

    - Regarding focus, next time, make all of those changes, then focus out to infinity.

    Check out this guy's thread and I think you'll see the result of some pretty simple changes!

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=960427&highlight=boston+fireworks
     
  8. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #8
    Thanks

    Good info. I will surely be picking up a cable release soon, I really should have one by now, I love night photography.

    I had heard the same thing about the VR/IS, and I normally never use it on a tripod. I figured since I was going to be hitting the shutter manually I might as well turn it on to compensate for the shutter button hi, as well as the bumps from our surface.

    I should really elaborate as to why I used it. We found some stacks of 2x6s directly on the river bank, but they were stacked about 10 feet high so they were not entirely stable. We climbed onto the top of them and the view we got from up there was 100x better, so we decided to chance it. The wobbling was pretty bad, and I did some comparisons with IS on/off based off of some early shot reviews, and I had concluded that the IS on was better than the IS off, but I sure could be wrong, it was very hurried as I did not want to waste any time.

    I simply can not wait for another chance at shooting fireworks though,t was fun!
     
  9. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #9
    fwiw, I got this for $30, best $ for sharp pictures IMO (combined with decent tripod)
    http://www.procameragear.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/422
    [​IMG]
     
  10. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #10
    Sweet, I think I need that!

    One question: Do you know if that would interfere with a Cactus transmitter and receivers, just in case I want to use it for strobist stuff?
     
  11. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #11
    Not exactly sure, depends on what part of the RF spectrum they use....
    The unit I have is @ 433MHz. Somehow the DIP switches can be used also to help fine tune it if there is interference?? (mine are still at factory default)
    • Works through walls and other obstacles using radio frequencies instead of infrared (RF - 433MHz)


    [edit] hmmm, looking here http://www.mpex.com/browse.cfm/4,514.html I see they are at same RF: # Radio working frequency: 433MHz; need to be careful, good Q for others
     

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