Shooting fireworks - with a twist...behind the scenes

August 2017

#fireworksphotography #focus #focuspull

Its the time of year here in far north Queensland, where there seems to be fireworks coming up every few weeks at various functions until the grand finale at NYE! which I won't be here for but will get in plenty of others before then. Photographing fireworks is always a challenge, and you don't really get to enjoy them at the time, but nice to marvel at later.

The main problem people have with photographing fireworks is overexposing. They are very bright patches of light in a very dark background. Quick shutter speeds can usually resolve this but everyone does this type of shot. Being a bit more creative with fireworks is a bit trickier.

I recently attended my kids school fete, so the fireworks didn't actually go for as long as some, but I will be better prepared for the next lot.

I was attempting, for the first time ever to shoot the fireworks differently, with the "focus pull" technique. Now this is really hard to do, especially in the dark.

To do this you need the following:

Lens where you know where you know the "sweet" spot is of infinity focus
maybe a second person to take the shot with a remote would help too

There are two tricky bits to using this technique.   The whole idea is to shoot out of focus and before the shot is complete bring the lens into sharp focus, all before the explosion has disappeared. This means you only have 1- 2 secs to do this.
The end result being a very creative almost flower-petal  like effect. The other tricky bit is the timing. You have to hit the shutter button just as the firework explodes and sends out the bursts of colour. If you get this timing wrong it doesn't really work.

Heres a few early ones...

Good flower petal like effect but didn't get the sharp tips of the ends of the petals as didn't focus properly at the end of the shot.

Lens 24-70mm f2.8 1sec
In fact all these are 1sec exposures, might try a little longer next time.
The reality is you don't get any time to review your shots or think too much about anything, its all happening and over too quickly.

The bigger your aperture, the fatter your petals will be (more light coming in) but you have to be careful that not too much light comes in and you overexpose and lose the colour.

f5 kind of like the bokeh effect left from a previous explosion

Started to get it here at f5

Zoomed in a bit more for this one, still not quite what I was after

Got it here, but no colour...aarrgghhhh

This one was shot a bit early, but kind of like the effect

Nice effect but a bit messy

Bit better f6.3

Finally this is the effect I was trying for....
f6.3 zoomed in a bit

Bit late with the timing, but kind of like it, realising by now that I needed to rotate the focus a lot further back initially.

f6.3 seems to be the go... This is exactly what I was after, but missed raising my camera as the fireworks sequences started going a lot higher.

Love this one too, even though I only captured half of it...and didn't get the proper effect

So in summary, next time I will get someone to come along and watch the action so they can press the shutter at the right time via remote, and I can concentrate on the focusing action....maybe then I can get something decent, but happy with my first try.


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