View Full Version : Fireworks help
John - NJ
28th of June 2001 (Thu), 14:34
It has been a while since I photographed fireworks and I've never tried it with a digital camera. Independence Day (July 4th) is next week and my village has a great fireworks show that we all attend. I'd like to get as many good shots as possible within the 30-minute show.
I will be taking my D30, 70-200mm f2.8 lens and a tripod. I will be turning on the noise reduction feature for long exposures. I will manually set the exposure time and aperture and leave the manual focus at infinity.
I need recommendations for ISO, f-stop and length of exposure.
Should I lock up the mirror?
Do I really need an off camera shutter release?
28th of June 2001 (Thu), 16:01
I am going to try this myself. Here is some info from The Jiffy Calculator, (c) 1964 by S. P. Martin. I cut it out of a photography magazine long ago, and have no idea whether it is still available. It gives recommended exposures for 26 different night scenes, and I have used it with film successfully.
Your benchmark is f/8 at ISO50. Expose for 1 sec or more, or use bulb. I would definitely use a tripod, but I don't think mirror lock is necessary and it is certainly inconvenient.
This exposure category is also recommended for brightly lighted amusement parks and carnivals, patterns of vehicle headlights, and lightning. You could test it on headlights and taillights after dark, setting up some distance from the street.
I have used this with Ektachrome and an old Minolta SR1 successfully. Don't be reluctant to use more than 1 sec or double exposures; with a good rigid system, point your camera, put it on bulb, and throw a black bag over the end of the lens between shots for a poor man's double exposure control.
If you test on a street scene first, let us know how it turns out.
John - NJ
28th of June 2001 (Thu), 16:11
In my original post I said I was taking my 70-200mm lens with me to shoot the fireworks. After doing a search and reading a little more, I think it might be better to take the shorter lenses.
How about the 14mm 2.8 or 50mm 1.4 lenses? Better than the 70-200mm 2.8 for fireworks?
Should I bring along the 100mm or the 28-135mm?
Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.
28th of June 2001 (Thu), 16:26
Eureka! I found one at Pacific Rim Camera (http://www.pacificrimcamera.com/catalog/ac11.htm) for $15.00. Also, I believe, in the April 1968 Popular Photography, which might be available from Craig Camera (http://www.craigcamera.com). I have asked Craig Camera if the calculator is in the magazine he has for $5.00 but have not yet received a reply.
28th of June 2001 (Thu), 19:55
In my Minolta SLR days I have used a 55mm and 135mm. Seems to me that the choice is based more on field of view than tele power. You could test this before the fact if you are familiar enough with your local fireworks and have picked out, at least roughly, your shooting position. Unless you are trying to capture fireworks above a skyline (such as the great July 4th show after the Boston Pops concert) you will be more concerned with filling the field of view with a few bursts, and having enough field of view to show a few bursts completely. If at a substantial distance, a wide lens might turn out to be too wide!
28th of June 2001 (Thu), 19:58
If anyone is interested, Craig Camera has the April 1968 Popular Photography with the Jiffy Calculator intact. The calculator has a range of scenes, such as burning buildings, neon signs and theatre marquees, display windows, all the way to moonscapes. You cut it out in two pieces, one which slides within the other to align scene number with ISO in a window; the other window gives f/ and speed combinations. I have found it much more useful than metering for low-light scenes, and pretty robust.
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