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Old Jun 28, 2005, 10:59 PM   #1
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I was considering a night challenge when Basement Shows suggested a fireworks challenge. Barbara Coultry did a fireworks/wildcard challenge a year ago. Night has not been done.

After consulting with Elliot Cheeks we decided to have a dual challenge consisting of both night and/or fireworks. Your choice. Obviously, the two are closely related. Both are shot in darkness but require very different techniques for good results.

If you choose the night challenge (no fireworks) we are looking for night scenes including street scenes, buildings, the moon, star traces (most digital cameras can't do this), people at night, moving vehicles on a roadway, carnival lighting, let your imagination guide you. I don't think club or concert events should be included. Neon lights make good night subjects.

If you use auto-exposure at night, your pictures will come out too light as the metering system tries to change the darkness to 18% gray. To make sure that dark stays dark, try using -1.0 to -2.0 ev exposure compensation. You will have to experiment to determine the best value.

Since most lighting at night is incandescent, set your white balance for incandescent so that lights don't end up looking reddish orange. You can also set your white balance from a white sheet of paper or any white surface illuminated by the lighting in the scene. You probably do not want to use flash unless you have a foreground subject in the picture. This requires some special handling. See your camera manual.

Fireworks can be very difficult to shoot. However, there is a method that can get some really good results. Some general rules for fireworks are shoot only during the first part of the show. By the second half of the show, there will be too much smoke in the air.

The following procedure will not work for all cameras. It is mainly for DSLRs. Do not use flash. Set your camera on a tripod and attach a cable release. Watch for the first rocket burst and point the lens in the general vicinity of that burst and manually focus on the burst. Set the camera for manual exposure with the aperture at f16. Set the shutter speed on bulb (holds shutter open as long as button is pushed). Hold a piece of cardboard or stiff paper over the front of the lens and push and hold the remote shutter release. When you see the trail of the rocket, remove the cardboard from the lens and replace after the burst, continuing to hold the shutter open. Watch for the trail of the next rocket and remove the cardboard again. Repeat for two or three bursts and release the shutter. This gets you multiple bursts in the same frame. After reviewing the picture, adjust your zoom, focus, and tripod position, and try it again. This is kind of a "Rube Goldberg" approach but it works well.

If you are using a point and shoot, check your camera manual for night shooting. You won't be able to get multiple bursts in one frame (without Photoshop). Night mode, if your camera has it, will probably work best. You need a slow shutter speed.

I am not sure what white balance setting to recommend for fireworks but I suspect that incandescent would be best. If someone has a better suggestion, post a reply here.

Feel free to ask questions regarding these two challenge topics. Night shooting and fireworks are something most people don't have much experience with.

When you post your pictures, please put "NIGHT" in your subject line.

References:
Night photography:
http://www.photoxels.com/tutorial-ni...otography.html
http://www.livingroom.org.au/photolo...raphy_tips.php
http://malektips.com/digital_night_p..._and_tips.html
http://www.schoolofphotography.com/night/night.html


Fireworks photography
http://malektips.com/digital_firewor..._and_tips.html
http://www.nyip.com/tips/current/digfirewks.php
http://www.nyip.com/tips/current/firewks.php
http://www.digicamhelp.com/how-to-ph...-fireworks.htm


Cal Rasmussen
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Old Jun 29, 2005, 3:04 PM   #2
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"Barbara Coultry did a fireworks/wildcard challenge a year ago."

Couldn't have been me. I'm phobic about things that explode.:shock:

I was just reading in one of my magazines that a simple long exposure can also work. This might be good for people who don't have all kinds of bells and whistles on their cameras but do have the ability to set shutter speed.

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Old Jun 29, 2005, 3:44 PM   #3
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Hi Barbara,
There are some good tips in some of those links, as well. There are some tips specifically for point'n'shoot cameras.

Cal

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Old Jul 12, 2005, 11:55 PM   #4
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Challenge extended to end of week to allow people a chance to prepare for the new challenge posted tonight.

Cal

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