Shooting fireworks. Tips please !

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Luke Vader, Nov 5, 2005.

  1. Luke  Vader

    Luke Vader Guest

    Hi guys,

    I've got a canon 20d with just a 17-85mm USM lens at the moment and no
    tripod. My first instinct would to wack the ISO up to 1600 - 3200 and use
    the IS. I know the IS is meant for low light/still object shots but might it
    Or is this just a suicide mission?

    Luke Vader, Nov 5, 2005
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  2. Luke  Vader

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    Find yourself something solid for the camera to rest on so as the aim it
    in the direction of the display. set the shutter (prob using manual) to
    bulb, use an aperture around f8 and iso 100.

    Leave the shutter open on bulb until you have a few fireworks recorded and
    then close it.

    Have a successful evening.
    Neil Ellwood, Nov 5, 2005
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  3. Luke  Vader

    ASAAR Guest

    Well, just a few hours ago I posted some information about
    shooting fireworks in another thread that wasn't taken very well,
    but you may find the information useful. In short, you really
    should get a tripod, and use a smaller ISO. You may want to use
    fairly long shutter speeds (a second or more), long enough that IS
    would be totally useless. For that you'd need a SteadiCam or a
    homemade gyroscope. :) Here's part of what was posted in the other
    : The following shots are using the 14-54mm zoom lens set at about 20mm.
    : Figure 32 shows the effects of longer shutter speed and smaller aperture,
    : 13 seconds @ f/16 (figure 31). We see sharper longer trails and more of the
    : ambient light of the city and the bridge showing up in the shot. The drawback
    : is that tend to loose detail in the highlights as the exposure builds. In figure 34,
    : we set the effects of opening up the aperture and shorting the exposure times,
    : about 3 seconds @ f/8 (figure 33). The trails are shorter and the ambient light
    : levels are much less, so we see less detail of the venue and the color saturation
    : of the burst looks better.
    ASAAR, Nov 5, 2005
  4. Luke  Vader

    Jim Guest

    Most people put the camera on a tripod so that they can leave the lens open
    for several bursts. A single burst of fireworks may disappoint you.
    For such a photo, USM has no benefit. As for the ISO, you just have to try
    several settings before you determine which one gives you the effect that
    you desire.
    Jim, Nov 5, 2005
  5. Just a week back, I did what you intend to do. My kit was a bit
    different - Canon 300D and a Sigma 24-135mm. After having shot the
    fireworks, I understand there are two types of fireworks shooting:
    - One is where you have control over the fireworks or atleast know the
    frequency of the fireworks and the approximate position in the sky
    where they will burst. If this is the case then your job is much
    simpler. Find a tripod or some support like a bean bag or anything that
    you can rest your camera on, aim the approximate the location in the
    sky, adjust the exposure to taste (shutter: 1-2 secs or bulb, ISO:
    100-400) and wait for the action.

    - Or you might end in a position like I was in. The fireworks were
    being burst on the occasion of a festival by the whole city. The entire
    night sky was filled with fireworks display but shooting them was like
    playing an arcade game where bogies keep popping up from all over the
    screen. As I found, its tough to shoot but not entirely impossible. You
    definitely need high ISO and shutter speed between 1/8th to 1/2 sec. I
    kept my eyes glued to the viewfinder looking at the part of the sky
    where most of the fireworks were happening. Alas, my hands aren't very
    steady or several of my shots would've turned out much better. Also, I
    did not turn up the ISO to 1600 for fear of ruining the photos with
    noise but you might have better luck with the 20D. Here's one shot:

    Hope this helps,

    - Siddhartha
    Siddhartha Jain, Nov 5, 2005
  6. Luke  Vader

    Donald Gray Guest

    I guess this may be a bit late - I hear that fireworks outside now!

    However - IMPROVISE! - I have often taken night shots without a tripod
    - Rest the camera on anything handy - the top of a car, a wall,
    dustbin, traffic bollard, hay bail. Use a stick as a hand steady like
    a unipod. Tale a plastic bag with you and fill it with sand/soil and
    use it as an improvised 'bean bag'

    Good luck and get some great shots...


    For our American cousins out there, 5th November is the ONLY proper
    date to let off fireworks. Not 4th July!

    Today is the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the "Gunpowder
    Plot" when the dastardly Guy (Guideo) Fawkes and pals tried to blow up
    Parliament. They failed... And were quite civilised about it, he had a
    fair trial before being "Hung, Drawn & Quartered" - a particularly
    effective execution! The victim is slowly hung for a while but let
    down just before death, as he revived, he was tied to a bench and his
    belly was split open and the intestines were cut out and shown to him.
    The finally, he was cut up into 4 parts and beheaded. The head was
    rammed on a stick and placed on public display - the 4 quarters of the
    body were dispersed across the country.

    You see, even 400 years ago, we were very fair and civilised!
    Donald Gray, Nov 5, 2005
  7. Phil Stripling, Nov 5, 2005
  8. Luke  Vader

    ASAAR Guest

    Over here where we sing Yankee Doodle
    We don't care for Fawkes' kit and kaboodle
    But times they have changed
    For your Blair seems deranged
    Is he mad dog, bitch or a poodle?

    When I visited a relative stationed near Heidelberg some 30+ years
    ago, Jan. 1 seemed to be the date most European countries set off
    fireworks. The German news played up the fact that they were more
    civilized than some of their neighboring countries since their
    fireworks were made a bit safer (with padding and probably less
    explosive powder) and as a result they had far fewer reports of
    people losing fingers and other body parts. And there's no sarcasm
    intended. In many ways the parts of the country I saw there did
    seem more civilized than the land I had just left, and which is now
    referred to as the Homeland. <g>
    ASAAR, Nov 5, 2005
  9. Luke  Vader

    Luke Vader Guest

    Thank you all for the tips and thanks to Sid an Phil for their examples.
    What I noticed looking at Siddartha's photo is the problem caused by smog
    left over from multiple fireworks which diffuses the low light. It spoils
    the shot somewhat. I guess it's worse if it's a damp night.
    Luke Vader, Nov 6, 2005
  10. : Thank you all for the tips and thanks to Sid an Phil for their examples.
    : What I noticed looking at Siddartha's photo is the problem caused by smog
    : left over from multiple fireworks which diffuses the low light. It spoils
    : the shot somewhat. I guess it's worse if it's a damp night.

    True. If possible position yourself 90 deg from the prevailing wind. If
    you have the wind to your back the fireworks will all have a smoky
    background. While if you are facing the wind some of the bursts will be
    hidden in the smoke. Unfortunately many times such a choice of viewing
    angle is not one that can be chosen and you have to make do with what is
    there. Also sometimes on a night with no air movement the cloud stays put
    from prior bursts, with subsequent burst going off inside the prior cloud.
    But since these are conditions you have no control over you just have to
    make the best of what you are given.

    BTW one person mentioned making exposures of 2 or 3 seconds. I have, on
    occasion made 20 or 30 sec exposures that create a sky full of lights. And
    I have also made some of these "hand held". I have found that tightly
    pressing the camera against a solid object, like a light pole or wall, can
    often give me enough stability to get very interresting images. Sometimes
    even the tiny wiggle of the hand can enhance the image. A spark that is
    falling straight down, but captured with a very slightly unsteady hand
    becomes a wiggling curtain of light. On the big bursts this wiggle makes
    the burst strongly resemble a chrysanthamum flower with tightly packed
    wavy petals. :)

    But if you can get or borrow a tripod to stabilize your camera this would
    be your best bet.


    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
    Randy Berbaum, Nov 6, 2005
  11. Luke  Vader

    Donald Gray Guest

    Oi! Nit so much of the 'prose'....

    Germans, like the rest of the world get it wrong too....

    Paix, Brother Paix...
    Donald Gray, Nov 6, 2005
  12. Luke  Vader

    ASAAR Guest

    Do you recall him being labeled as Bush's poodle? :)
    ASAAR, Nov 6, 2005
  13. This is a day too late, but: I don't think you'll regret getting a
    tripod before next year's fireworks.

    My own first attempt at firework photography was last night:
    Richard Kettlewell, Nov 6, 2005
  14. Yeah, I'd forgotten about that. If you can be upwind of the fireworks,
    that's much better, as the smoke blows away from you. I've been downwind
    and had pretty much the whole thing hidden by smoke. Whether damp
    conditions make it worse or not, I have no idea.
    Phil Stripling, Nov 6, 2005
  15. Donald Gray skrev:
    For a Scandinavian, on 4th of July, it isn't only improper, but
    actually totally improductive, to let off fireworks.

    The sky simply isn't dark enough, even at midnight.

    Jan Böhme
    =?iso-8859-1?B?SmFuIEL2aG1l?=, Nov 6, 2005
  16. Luke  Vader

    Donald Gray Guest

    Right on , Jan
    Donald Gray, Nov 6, 2005
  17. Luke  Vader

    Iraxl Enb Guest

    Iraxl Enb, Nov 7, 2005
  18. Luke  Vader

    Laurent Guest

    I agree. Like in this one :

    Laurent --> Just showing the context...
    Laurent, Nov 7, 2005
  19. Luke  Vader

    Donald Gray Guest

    Donald Gray, Nov 8, 2005
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