Category Archives: Firework Photography

Fireworks Photography Processing

It’s not so many years ago that photographing fireworks was a bit of a hit and miss affair. In the old days, before digital single lens reflex cameras, it wasn’t until the photographs had been processed and printed in your dark room (or the local chemist of course) that you got to see what you actually captured; unless you had a polaroid camera.

These days you can now see instantly the results, this can help when looking at the depth of field, white balance, ISO speed, noise and make a decision if a 3 second exposure would be better than 4 seconds, allowing you to make small corrections as you go.

At Christmas I was presented with a new Fuji Finepix S9500 Bridge camera (half way between a point and shoot camera and a full S.L.R) with both telephoto and macro functions. Luckily, it also came with a copy of “Dummies guide to digital photography”! I also joined in with a photography group (on the best known social media site) and started snapping.

Whilst looking at comments online I saw a lot making mention of a clever piece of computer software called Lightroom 5. On researching further, I told my other half I NEEDED this which of course her indoors agreed to.

Following my guide-book I was advised to shoot in Raw format as this type captures the picture as it was taken with very little processing by the camera in advance of viewing whereas when an image is captured in Jpeg format, the resulting image is the cameras best guess at what it should look like with white balance adjustment, ‘noise reduction’ etc.

The best way I could understand the difference was that a raw format shot is like a chocolate cake with the ingredients listed whereas a Jpeg image is a slice of the cake with no further information. However, using this nifty bit of software, which I found very easy to operate from the outset, but with confidence I am now using more and more of the features with some great results. The difference in what the camera captured and what the users finished photograph is easily retouched.

The functionality of the program allows you to change the ISO speed to make the overall picture lighter or darker, colour saturation can be adjusted if the colour is too weak it can easily be corrected by a click of the mouse as can the sharpness of the captured image and the hue, pastel shades of lilac colours can be tweaked to become vivid purples, blues or reds. Blurred images now become sharp so any graining or image distortion is simply rectified.

I found this short online tutorial from Serge Ramelli and following his easy to follow advice I managed to capture these photographs at the very first attempt.

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New Year Firework Photography

It’s a well established fact today that since the eve of the new millennium that people simply LOVE fireworks and it goes hand in glove that today technology is king and today, we can all capture more of those precious memories than ever.

Our society today is such that over 80% of the population have either a decent quality camera or a phone with a good camera facility to hand 24 hours a day. That said, fireworks are renowned for being an especially difficult medium to capture on camera which is one of the reasons we always advise customers who visit the website that whilst you can view every product in our range in video format, we will never be able to catch the full effects you actually view with the human eye.

A beautiful firework appeals to our most basic need for light and colour and whether you love them or hate them (and the majority of haters don’t like them because of their noise rather than the effects of the fireworks) getting a decent shot of a firework is in itself is a task not to be underestimated.

The problem is that unless you are supremely lucky the shots you believed were brilliant at Midnight on NYE actually in the cold light of day are a little underwhelming.

The key to taking a great shot is planning. Try the following (as recommended by professional photographers):

USE A TRIPOD OR FIRM SURFACE – set the frame you want to capture and leave it there. Keeping your hand steady for any length of time is not easy and will result in blurry pictures.

SHOOT IN MANUAL MODE – set the camera ISO to LOW (the experts recommend between 50 – 100) set the aperture to F5.6 for a crisp image.

SET SHUTTER SPEED – photography specialist recommend it to be at 2 seconds.

Turn off the FLASH.

Use MANUAL focus.

Try to position yourself upwind – this will reduce the amount of smoke you will have in the shot.

Take as many shots as you can – around 100 will actually give you around 5 absolutely cracking photographs.

Some android devices have a BURST option – engage this if it is a feature of your device.

Try to get some perspective into the frame be that a tree, a building like a church or sizeable house or even a person’s silhouette – it offers a better indication of the size of the burst.

There are some absolutely beautiful shots online, captured by all manner of cameras including some very old camera phone’s (my favourite all time camera-phone was the Samsung E770 – I took some amazing pictures of everything including a lunar eclipse.

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PHOTOGRAPHING FIREWORKS WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE

Bonfire Night is fast approaching (less than 11 weeks to go – hehe) so thoughts turn to fireworks and of course taking pictures of the event.

Whilst many have top of the range camera’s today, most of us carry a smart phone so we are always ready to get clicking at any given moment.

In most instances, the photographs we take most frequently will be in well-lit/daylight environment during the Spring and Summer months which naturally presents a whole new set of shooting conditions to consider when taking photographs of fireworks, late evening and often in damp conditions.

Here at Epic we have previously offered advice on photographing fireworks effectively but there are a number of useful hints, tips and even an app to help you to get the most out of your iPhone on November 5th.

BEST PRACTICE

• Plan ahead – You can never do enough planning as the old saying goes, fail to plan, plan to fail. There are a few things you can do to avoid being caught out this Bonfire Night it you wish to take some memorable pictures. Where to stand? Usually, we would recommend in the designated viewing area but if you want shots with a specific feature included (tree, bridge, water etc) you must be sure to get there early and set up. Check your battery is fully charged and ready to shoot and clear as much memory space as possible (you don’t want to be ready to take the shot of the night and find yourself without the space to save it). Which way is the wind blowing – this might not be an apparent ‘plan ahead’ consideration but if you bear in mind that if the wind is in your direction, you may end up in a thick cloud of smoke you really should check before you set up.

• Accessories – There are a few accessories available today for most smartphone’s which will be of benefit to you. Unless you have a spot where you can safely rest the camera without the likelihood of any movement, we heartily recommend a tripod. Here at Epic, we use a full-sized one (picked up for around a fiver) but you can get some natty mini ones which are handy if you need something pocket-sized but they can be quite expensive so make sure you shop around. There are also specialist ‘moment’ lenses but these will be more of a hindrance than a help.

• APP – There are a couple of really good ones which have been tried and tested in the fireworks industry by friends and other pyrofreaks; NightCap and Slow Shutter Cam. Out of the two, I think that you will benefit more from the Slow Shutter Cam APP as you will be able to capture the full effect that is seen by the eye with the full light trails. Again, make sure you are fully conversant with the function and give it a try before the night as you don’t really want to be fumbling around whilst you are trying to enjoy the show.

Make no mistake, firework photography is incredibly challenging but once you establish what is going to best suit your abilities and give you the best results, you can only get better.

One final point, firework displays build and you will always have the ‘finale’ to check out so keep some of your energies for the end when the sky will be full of fireworks.

We would dearly love to see your firework pics and would like to feature them on our site. Let us have them via email to the following:

[email protected]

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