David Barthel - North Shore Images PhotographyDavid Barthel North Shore Images Photography
David Barthel

Photo Journal & News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fireworks with a Twist - Literally!

As most of you know, I'm primarily a [natural] landscape photographer, so I must admit that shooting fireworks is not at the top of my list of subjects to photograph. But after reading a recent post by Sean Bagshaw Photography on the Photo Cascadia blog about a different method for capturing the exploding light bursts, I simply couldn't resist giving it a try and having some fun with it during the local Fourth of July display.

Photographers, read on further...

The technique is simple — with your camera in "bulb" mode and fixed upon a tripod, twist the focus ring of your lens steadily (in manual focus mode) while the shutter is open for a second or two. Begin the exposure with the fireworks well (but not too far) out of focus and end the exposure with the burst in-focus (or very close to that point).

It's not as easy in practice – timing is one of the main challenges. You want to time the shutter to open at the point of the explosion and close before the light fizzles. Also, this technique works better with displays that shoot more single bursts of fireworks, as opposed to those that shoot lots of them in succession. In other words, the grand finale is not the time to employ this approach. This technique definitely relies on a good deal of trial and error, and success will not be on your side all (or even most) of the time.

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