POTW: Fireworks 2010

July 9, 2010 at 12:59 am

POTW: Fireworks 2010

Last weekend was July 4th which is Independence Day in the US (do I even have readers from other countries?) so of course this week is going to be fireworks. These were taken in Bedford, Ohio Saturday night. Was interesting in that I was front row and only maybe a couple hundred feet from where the fireworks were going off which meant it looked like they were above your head. Also, there was music playing but not sure how choreographed it was to the music, it seemed like it generally was though.

Looking at my pictures from last year I realized I don't really like the background being completely black so I made a point to adjust settings to make sure I got some of the sky in the background. Because I was so close even with a wide angle lens I had to go portrait orientation. This worked fine since all the fireworks only came from a few places relatively close to each other. It's also a little misleading in portrait orientation on a wide angle. The top of this image would be me looking into the sky at 60-75° angle, so it covered a lot of vertical space. One of the challenges with fireworks aside from the actual settings is going through them. There's so many that are good but you need to only select the great ones. Could have probably trimmed it down some more. As for my actual technique it was pretty basic. I had the camera on the tripod and I had my remote shutter switch attached. I set the shutter speed to manual and aperture stayed around f/8 or f/11. I took a couple test shots and just counted in my head and let go of trigger. If it was too dark I'd add a second, too bright I'd remove a second. It came to around 6 seconds to get the sky how I wanted. I then adjusted as needed as the sky darkened. The reason I didn't just set it to 6 seconds is there may be times where certain fireworks are going off and I have to take a shorter exposure. In bulb mode I didn't have to worry and just repress the trigger when I want.

Sunday night I tried going to the lakewood fireworks that I went to last year and had an awesome finale. Due to various reasons I was running late and had trouble finding a parking spot. Finally found a spot about a mile or two away from park when they started to go off. What was interesting was watching all the people. Some people setup chairs in their yard, people huddled around areas where there were breaks in the trees. For those 30 minutes or so everyone just tuned out the world to watch fireworks. Of course being the photographer I am I was trying to figure out how to convey this in a photo. I was distracted as well by the fireworks as I walked along toward the park to get a better view. My options were limited. In the US there's something referred to as the sidewalk rule. If you are standing on a sidewalk anything you can see with your naked eye is considered public and you can take pictures of just about anyone, including children, without getting permission. As a general rule I try not to take pictures of stranger's children since I know some parents are very defensive about pictures of their children. The law would be on my side but I rather not have it reach that point. Well my only options while the fireworks were going is setup my tripod in the middle of the road--traffic was literally at a stand still as other people that got there late just stopped and got out of their car--and take a long exposure shot of the kids watching the fireworks and hope they stand still for the 5 seconds or so I would have the shutter open. By the time I was finally thinking about doing this and just dealing with parents afterwards--I imagine they would just think I'm from a newspaper or something--it was getting close to the end and I didn't want to miss the finale, which was the reason I went to this again. Sure enough it was just as good as last years. Then there's the drive back home with fireworks going off everywhere. Kinda surprised how big the fireworks the public can buy. Maybe if I'm in the same situation next year I'll just take the pictures and see.

Rest of the pictures can be found in the image gallery.

Posted in Photography.

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