Friday, June 29, 2012

Capture the Fireworks like a Pro!

Capture the Fireworks like a Pro!

With 4rth of July approaching I was thinking of my plans to capture the fireworks next week.  Last year I had scouted our places around Shoreline, Mt View, and stationed myself close enough to fill my frames beautifully with the colors in the sky.  For my last years images, click here.  So for this year, I’ll be expanding on the fireworks theme and will add other elements when I capture the 4rth. Click here for my 2012 images.

If you plan to go out and try to capture the beauty of the 4rth at night, here are some photography tips how to successfully bring back stunning images.

The Photography Essentials:  your camera with manual controls, a wide angle lens or wide angle to medium tele zoom lens, a cable release or wireless release, a stop watch, a sturdy tripod. A piece of cardboard to cover your lens (see below “creative”), lens cloth, a flashlight.

Camera:  it is important to be able to manually control your exposure settings.  Since you want to capture the unfolding colors a longer exposure is necessary.  The camera should not have a lag time (a draw back for Point-and-Shoot cameras).

Shutter speed: Set your camera on manual and dial the shutter speed to bulb.  This will allow you to keep the shutter open for a manually determined time.  With your cable release you can then open the shutter with each new firework burst and leave it open until the colors fade.  Start with 3-5 seconds and experiment from there.

Aperture or f-stop:  Select ISO 100-200 and f/8 to f/16.  The smaller aperture (higher f-stop) intensifies the colors and prevents over exposure.  This is where you need to experiment between shots.

White Balance:  Choose Daylight as a starting point.  If you like warm colors, change to Clouds.

Focusing:  Set your camera lens on manual focus and focus on ‘infinity’.  Typically, there is a range in the infinity setting and it is important to review your image and maybe pull back just a tiny bit for finding the best “infinity’ point on your lens.

Noise Reduction:  Longer exposures can overheat your sensor and that leads to ‘noise’ in the image.  However, the noise reduction adds time to the ‘writing’ of the image on your memory card and you might decide to live with the noise for being able to shoot more rapidly during the ½ hour of the typical fireworks display.

Creative Images:  After photographing single blasts and being comfortable with the setting and the looks of your images, try to do a double exposure by opening your lens with the cable release but obscuring the lens with the cardboard.  Then with 2-3 consecutive blasts of colors, ‘open’ the lens by removing the cardboard and thus capturing more than 1 blast – experiment until you get the perfect amazing color show in the sky.  This is essentially a multi-exposure controlled by blocking and removing the cardboard from your lens.  See what amazing blasts you can capture.

Last but not least:  bring a blanket to sit on or a low chair, gather your friends and bring a picnic – after finding the perfect spot there is typically waiting until the show begins.  Munch away until the sky lights up!

Have a great 4rth!



"Only leaving dust behind"
New Cheetah Image - from last Sunday.

Only 3 'Photo-Blind' tickets left for the Cheetah event!!  
Check out the Reno Balloon Festival and Cheetah Run in September 7-10.

Don't miss this fantastic photo opportunity!  See all details here.