Big Bang or 4th Of July Fireworks!

Scott Whaley

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I am not very experienced in night time photography, so, I decided to give it a try this evening as our subdivision had a 4th of July party on July 3rd. I took these photos of the fireworks with my Canon 7D using the stock lens. Camera settings were: Shutter speed at 1/2 second, Aperture F-11, ISO 100. What do you think about them and any suggestions on how to improve?

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Derrel

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A little bit more in-camera exposure might have made some of these pretty exciting! Wider f/stop or higher ISO, or a longer exposure time would have changed these significantly. The 1/2 second exposure time is, IMHO, the most damaging factor.
 
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Scott Whaley

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Thanks. I did not like the 1/2 shutter speed either. So, shorting the exposure and increasing the ISO?
 

Derrel

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Lengthen the shutter would be my suggestion. Problem as I see it is that The fireworks look thin and weak, because you took pictures of the fireworks over 1/2 second, when the way we experience fireworks is as a somewhat long burst,and each spiderweb looks wider.

I think the best fireworks photos are those in which the firework makes a picture of itself over time with its own light. In your photos it's like you took a 1/2 second picture of Bursts. I am thinking more like eight to 15 seconds with the shutter open.
 
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Scott Whaley

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8 to 15 seconds? Looks like that would create a bunch of light art which is not what I want. It is definitely a learning process.
 

waday

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8 to 15 seconds? Looks like that would create a bunch of light art which is not what I want. It is definitely a learning process.
Listen to @Derrel , he knows what he’s talking about.

Here’s an example, maybe not the best, but the only one I can find right now. I took this with a 9-second shutter. You can play around with the length to get what you want, but generally, much longer shutter than 1/2-sec.


fireworks-5_19474517252_o
by Wade, on Flickr
 

Designer

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Thanks. I did not like the 1/2 shutter speed either. So, shorting the exposure and increasing the ISO?
These look underexposed, so you would want a LONGER exposure not shorter. We've seen good exposures at 4 seconds and f/11. Or you could open up more to f/8 or f/5.6 and then try 3 or 2 seconds.
 

waday

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Also, check out some of the major stores’ (e.g., B&H, Adorama, etc.) websites around this time of year, because they usually have articles and tips on how to shoot fireworks.
 
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Scott Whaley

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That's interesting. Some good information to think about. Thanks.
 

Derrel

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One of my favorite fireworks shots was when I was about 20 years old around 1983 I think. I was in Independence Oregon and I had my Nikon FM mounted on tripod, loaded with Kodachrome 64, a slow speed slide film .
I had the lens set to F8 And I opened the shutter and as I did so I saw the shell Going upward rapidly, and then when it reached its terminal height, it exploded in a shower of red and blue and green sparks! The cool thing about this roughly 12 second exposure is that i got both the shell going up, and it exploding.

Fireworks is kind of a tricky thing. the exposure triangle of ISO, aperture,and time really do come together and interact in a number of ways. If the shutter is held open for a long time and a black card is held in front of lens, it is possible to capture several Bursts. Your current shots --what you were doing is "taking pictures of fireworks". And in your photos the fireworks appear delicate and like spiderwebs. Had you used a wider aperture or a higher ISO, or both, your fireworks would likely appear more bold and wider, less delicate. One of the biggest issues is how you want your fireworks to appear. There is no one single way that is correct, and I would encourage you to be open minded and to try different approaches.
 
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K9Kirk

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Darrel is right and his suggested about using a card to cover the lens is a great trick to adding more to a picture rather than doing overlays in editing. You can get pretty creative with that trick. It's one I learned years ago with my old Canon AE-1 when film was king and no "Lightroom" to play with. I used to show a picture to friends of me at night sitting in the drivers and the passenger seat of my car (at the same time, one pic) and they would freak out and say, "But, but, that's you in both seats, how'd you do that?!!" Good times!
 

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I shot some pics of fireworks, this was the first time I have tried it again after many years. Using a Nikon D3400, 18-50mm. All the shots were about the same setting ISO 200, f8, 1-2sec exposure using the remote. I do not use the bulb setting since the camera can be set up to 30sec , if I go beyond that I use TIME setting on the D3400.PSExpress_2019-07-09_17-56-54_781.jpg PSExpress_2019-07-09_18-05-23_297.jpg
 

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