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Old 06-13-2007, 06:39 PM   #1
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Need fireworks photography advice

I am going to camping very close to the Statue of Liberty this July 4th. I think I'll have a great opportunity to take some great fireworks shots, but I don't know the first thing about how to do that.

I have a Canon Rebel XT - a decent digital camera and have several lens (wide angle and telephoto).

Any suggestions welcomed as to settings, aperture, speed whatever.

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Old 06-13-2007, 07:26 PM   #2
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There are alot of write ups on how to photo fireworks in photo magazines. Basically you can run time exposures over the time it takes for the fireworks to leave the ground and explode which gives you the trails of the fireworks. The F stop you use is dependent on how far you are away from the fireworks. The other opportunity is to capture the explosion at its peak with a 60th of a second exposure. Here the F stop would be much wider open. If you have the lens open too wide you burn out the color of the explosion. I would suggest you go to the library and try a search there. A search in a photo forum on line might also be usefull. I have taken some nice shots myself. You might also want to use a time exposure with the Statue in the foreground and the fireworks surrounding it. You would have to use a hand held telescopic light meter to determine the proper exposure of the statue.

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Old 06-13-2007, 07:46 PM   #3
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Flash off, tripod or steady mount required. Manual settings, 1 second shutter, F-stop wide open. Give it a try.
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Old 06-13-2007, 08:08 PM   #4
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First off - just have fun - but don't get so absorbed you loose awareness of your surroundings and get targeted by sneak thieves, etc. Having a companion along to watch your back, and perhaps review pictures on a laptop from one memory card while you are shooting to another might get you nearer to what you want. Writing down various tweaks you do and shoot sets & recording changes made between sets will keep it reproducible.

Many cameras have difficulty with focus in low light - familiarize yourself with the focus manual adjustment and learn with actual night shots where manual infinity really is on your unit to obtain needle sharp images. Having 100 blurry fireworks shots is depressing.

Go scout some pawn shops or the like for a heavy metal tripod and and then scout out where you will place tripod or other mechanical stand in the daylight to get the solidest rest possible - then go back after sunset to see if there is light pollution there - the orange glow of sodium streetlights is just plain nasty and even dim street lighting gets distracting on time exposures. You can use sheet cardboard or a cardboard box to shield camera but prior proper planning and placement is a must, wooden stakes and a staple gun, etc..

Try to be upwind from the display - smoke left from last bursts can muddy up shots, and bursts will be more symmetrical and pleasing.

I enjoyed making videos of fireworks lone 4th - but got home to have soundtrack of mostly air conditioners roaring, little kids yelling and cars driving by... The light baffles can also act as sound intensifiers to help block out nuisance sounds.

Good luck : )

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Old 06-20-2007, 07:31 AM   #5
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Thanks all - great suggestions! I'll try to post some pictures after the fact.
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:24 AM   #6
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ISO 100 F11-16 Tripod

Time exposure varies depending on how many explosions and trails you want in the photo. Usually 5 - 10 seconds.

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Old 06-20-2007, 09:55 AM   #7
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Don't forget to use a cable release.

I'm not familiar with the XT specs, but maybe it has a remote control that you can actuate camera with.

Either way, this will also help minimize shake.


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