Fireworks!


Today’s photos are different from what I usually post.  These are not typical HDR images where several photos are captured at different exposures and merged together.  Instead, these are single images with relatively long exposure times – between 3 and 4 seconds.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been behind in processing images.  I’ve been very busy with school so I’ve only now been able to go through some of these and I have many more to go through.  I took these images on July 4 at Wamego.  The independence day fireworks show at Wamego is quite famous in Kansas and may be the best fireworks display in the state.  I thought it was pretty cool and I had fun shooting it.  There were lots of people there with their mats and foldable lawn chairs.

I don’t have very much experience shooting fireworks, but if you think these look great and are wondering how I shot them, I’ll tell you what gear I used and outline the basic steps I took.  When shooting fireworks you need a tripod (this is a must) and a good tripod head.  I have Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT tripod and a Vanguard ABH-230K ball head.  I really like the Vanguard tripods, but I really love their ball heads.  Very solid products.  Next, you need a remote release for your camera either wired or wireless.  I used the Pentax F remote for triggering my Pentax K-5.  For the lens, I used the kit lens, the Pentax DA-L 18-55mm.

July 4th Fireworks Show at Wamego, Kansas

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 23mm
Aperture: f/11
Shutter Speed: 3.9s

I arrived at the show early so I could scout out a good spot where I had a clear view and was up wind of the smoke.  I had the K-5 mounted on the tripod, I set the mode dial to Bulb and set the camera to use the wireless remote.  There are two ways to set the remote in Bulb mode, either you hold the button down for the entire exposure time and release it to close the shutter, or you press once to open the shutter and press a second time to close it.  I can’t remember which way I did it, but either way should work.  I had the ISO set to 200, it should be low so you don’t get noisy images and for the aperture and shutter speed I played around with these during the show until I got what I wanted.  What I noticed was that with larger apertures (less than f/8) I had to use faster shutter speeds so the fireworks wouldn’t be blown out, but because the shutter speed was faster I didn’t get the nice light trails.  So I shot at smaller apertures (f/11) which allowed me to have longer shutter speeds and capture the light trails.  Overall it worked out pretty well.

I did most of the post processing in Aperture.  I used brushes to lighten up the people on the field and darken the sky and add contrast to the fireworks and bring out the colors.  I applied the brilliance filter in Color Efex Pro and sharpened in Photoshop.

I’d appreciate any feedback in the comments.  Thanks!

July 4th Fireworks Show at Wamego, Kansas

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 3.6s

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