This year, our city's large show at Oak Lake was Saturday evening, followed by a smaller (but much more accessible) show at a nearby lake on Sunday, and finally a neighborhood party with friends on Monday. I chose to take different approaches to photographing each of these events.
|2009 finale: 17mm, f/8, 5s, ISO 400|
|21mm, f/11, 10s, ISO 200|
|44mm, f/11, 5s, ISO 200|
|44mm, f/11, 9s, ISO 200|
|33mm, f11, 7s, ISO 200|
|33mm, f/11, 5s, ISO 200|
|50mm, f/11, 8s, ISO 200: Chinese script?|
|70mm, f/11, 2s, ISO 200: My tightest crop of the night.|
Although Sunday's show wasn't as large, we were able to sit nearly right under the fireworks. We even got showered in debris a couple times. This time, I used a relatively narrow telephoto lens. At such close range, my 50mm Super-Takumar got some nice, tight compositions in the middle of the bursts, which is what I wanted. Gotta love old, manual glass. Of course, not every burst was at the same height, so I was constantly re-aiming the tripod, sometimes even while the shell was ascending. I mis-aimed plenty of shots, but I still got a few real keepers. I was happier with these shots than I was with Saturday's. As before, I set things at f/11, tungsten, and bulb, although most exposures were short to include just a single burst. All of these shots are the full, uncropped, original width. More text following Sunday's photos.
|50mm, f/11, 2s, ISO 200|
|50mm, f/11, 1s, ISO 200|
|50mm, f/11, 1s, ISO 100|
|50mm, f/11, 2s, ISO 200|
For our neighborhood party on Monday, I wanted to concentrate on the party rather than the fireworks. I used my 10mm lens and setup my tripod behind the row of chairs on the driveway. Every shot was on tungsten, but I varied my aperture & exposure length to record the color in the sky. Some of the neighbor girls took a liking to my camera, so I eventually just locked the exposure at 15 seconds and told them which button to press to start recording. They actually captured the final two shots below. They had great fun, and I got to take a break without missing any shots. Assistants are great.
|Smoke ball art|
|16mm, f/5.6, 4s, ISO 200|
|11mm, f/8, 15s, ISO 400|
|10mm, f/8, 15s, ISO 400|
So there you have it. Three different philosophies for photographing Fourth of July festivities. For general pointers on photographing fireworks, checkout this earlier post. Hope those of you in the US had a safe & happy holiday. My son got hit in the leg by one projectile that went horizontal on us, but it was a minor injury.
Got a question or a suggestion of your own? Speak up in the comment section below. I'd love to hear from you!