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Old Dec 15, 2014, 11:19 AM   #1
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Default I like to shoot fireworks.

I really enjoy photographing fireworks, but will admit that originally I got tired of the sameness of my typical fireworks shots. All my shots looked like mushrooms or dandelions.

It was only after I stopped following the "how to shoot fireworks" advice that is in all the photo books and websites, that firework photography became fun again. Since I developed my own techniques, for many years now I have fun and enjoy my shots. I have hundreds of fireworks photos in my portfolio.

It is also so much easier since I developed my own technique and rules, and rule number one: never, but never, use a tripod for shooting fireworks.

I am lucky in that, because of where I live, I can chose to see fireworks 365 days a year if I want. That made it easy to experiment. Anyway, I thought I would share a few shots. I hope you think that they are not really like the usual fireworks shots that are usually posted on websites.















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Old Dec 17, 2014, 5:37 PM   #2
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I really enjoy photographing fireworks, but will admit that originally I got tired of the sameness of my typical fireworks shots. All my shots looked like mushrooms or dandelions.

It was only after I stopped following the "how to shoot fireworks" advice that is in all the photo books and websites, that firework photography became fun again. Since I developed my own techniques, for many years now I have fun and enjoy my shots. I have hundreds of fireworks photos in my portfolio.

It is also so much easier since I developed my own technique and rules, and rule number one: never, but never, use a tripod for shooting fireworks.

I am lucky in that, because of where I live, I can chose to see fireworks 365 days a year if I want. That made it easy to experiment. Anyway, I thought I would share a few shots. I hope you think that they are not really like the usual fireworks shots that are usually posted on websites.
Gorgeous, but you can't leave me hanging. I've tried rule one, and my shots don't look anywhere near that good What are some more rules? I have 6 weeks to learn them before I get to Disney again.
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Old Dec 17, 2014, 6:27 PM   #3
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No problem; give me a few minutes and I will post how I now shoot fireworks . In the meantime, one thing I wanted to mention is that if you look at my shots, you will see a lot of single points of light that would only be streaks in a long exposure.

Okay:-- for those of you who would like to try shooting fireworks without a tripod you could use these hints as a starting point.

1. Beside claiming a good viewing point, the lens I use depends on the location. If relatively close, the 12-60mm works well. For further away, I use a 50-200 lens. (If anyone has an 18-180 lens that would probably be great for fireworks.)

2. Select a shutter speed of either 1/80, or 1/100, or 1/120 sec depending on the brightness of the fireworks display that you are photographing. (The closer your position, the brighter the fireworks will be.) In my experiments, I have found those 3 speeds to be most effective. Slow enough to capture the colorful images, and yet fast enough to eliminate any blur from hand holding. Be sure that Image Stabilization is turned on.) At those speeds, you also see individual points of light in a pattern that would be only be just another streak in a long exposure photo.

3. Through experiments, I have settled on ISO of either 400 to 800. Or, I set the ISO to auto with a limit of ISO 1600 and let the camera automatically chose the ISO for each shot with my E-3.

4. I often shoot in short bursts. You get a nice series of shots showing how the firework patterns changes shape from the initial explosion and then how it grows into the larger pattern. Sometimes you can even capture the initial concussion ring as it first explodes.

Personally, I hate carrying tripods around when I'm shooting, and rarely use one for anything. That is just me.
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Old Dec 17, 2014, 6:28 PM   #4
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Beautiful pictures Steven,

So colorful and crispy, I really like the last one with the inclusion of the castle.

Marcelo
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Old Dec 17, 2014, 9:14 PM   #5
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No problem; give me a few minutes and I will post how I now shoot fireworks . In the meantime, one thing I wanted to mention is that if you look at my shots, you will see a lot of single points of light that would only be streaks in a long exposure.

Okay:-- for those of you who would like to try shooting fireworks without a tripod you could use these hints as a starting point.

1. Beside claiming a good viewing point, the lens I use depends on the location. If relatively close, the 12-60mm works well. For further away, I use a 50-200 lens. (If anyone has an 18-180 lens that would probably be great for fireworks.)

2. Select a shutter speed of either 1/80, or 1/100, or 1/120 sec depending on the brightness of the fireworks display that you are photographing. (The closer your position, the brighter the fireworks will be.) In my experiments, I have found those 3 speeds to be most effective. Slow enough to capture the colorful images, and yet fast enough to eliminate any blur from hand holding. Be sure that Image Stabilization is turned on.) At those speeds, you also see individual points of light in a pattern that would be only be just another streak in a long exposure photo.

3. Through experiments, I have settled on ISO of either 400 to 800. Or, I set the ISO to auto with a limit of ISO 1600 and let the camera automatically chose the ISO for each shot with my E-3.

4. I often shoot in short bursts. You get a nice series of shots showing how the firework patterns changes shape from the initial explosion and then how it grows into the larger pattern. Sometimes you can even capture the initial concussion ring as it first explodes.

Personally, I hate carrying tripods around when I'm shooting, and rarely use one for anything. That is just me.
Cool, thanks! Going back over my previous attempts, I may have stumbled over this combination eventually. It looks like I was trying too hard to have a slow shutter speed. Faster speed with hand held makes sense. What do you do for focusing? Do you prefocus, or let the auto focus do the work? My previous attempts were with the EPL-1, so I don't think it could keep up. My EP-5 has a better chance (and better IS ) Thanks for the tips!
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Old Dec 18, 2014, 9:29 AM   #6
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Cool, thanks! Going back over my previous attempts, I may have stumbled over this combination eventually. It looks like I was trying too hard to have a slow shutter speed. Faster speed with hand held makes sense. What do you do for focusing? Do you prefocus, or let the auto focus do the work? My previous attempts were with the EPL-1, so I don't think it could keep up. My EP-5 has a better chance (and better IS ) Thanks for the tips!
I have used both auto focusing and manual focusing. In auto focusing I used the single point and put the middle dot in the middle of the explosion. Normally, the E-3 focusing is fast enough. But usually after the first couple of auto-focus shots, while the lens is still at the correct focus, I will then switch to manual focus for the rest of the shots. That way there is no lag at all when you frame the shot you want and the shutter release.

Have a good time at Disney World and let me know if you have any Disney questions.
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Old Dec 23, 2014, 10:35 PM   #7
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I like to shoot fireworks too and I must say you've got some beauts there.
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Old Dec 23, 2014, 11:14 PM   #8
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I like to shoot fireworks too and I must say you've got some beauts there.
Thank you very much, Alan.
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Old Jan 29, 2015, 10:00 AM   #9
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I have used both auto focusing and manual focusing. In auto focusing I used the single point and put the middle dot in the middle of the explosion. Normally, the E-3 focusing is fast enough. But usually after the first couple of auto-focus shots, while the lens is still at the correct focus, I will then switch to manual focus for the rest of the shots. That way there is no lag at all when you frame the shot you want and the shutter release.

Have a good time at Disney World and let me know if you have any Disney questions.
Hi Steven, I haven't been around the forums lately being buried at work trying to get ready to go (two days ). A quick question, I've been looking at the weather forecast and it's calling for rain next Wednesday into Thursday. Are the forecasts this far out reliable? Where's the best place to be during the rain? (We also plan to hit Universal if that's a factor).

Thanks!
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Old Jan 29, 2015, 10:52 AM   #10
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Hi Steven, I haven't been around the forums lately being buried at work trying to get ready to go (two days ). A quick question, I've been looking at the weather forecast and it's calling for rain next Wednesday into Thursday. Are the forecasts this far out reliable? Where's the best place to be during the rain? (We also plan to hit Universal if that's a factor).

Thanks!
Looks like next Wednesday and Thursday are the two worst weather days for the next few weeks, but then again, these forecasts seem to change every day. I recommend that before you leave, that you and the family all buy some lightweight plastic ponchos that can be easily folded up and carried in backpack or camera bag. (Don't wait to buy at Disney, unless you like to pay $12 bucks for a $2 poncho.) Normally when a shower comes thru it will pour down for a little while, and then stop.

If its raining, I doubt it makes much difference which park you are at. ( Other than Animal Kingdom because most of the animals are outdoors.)

Your main problem is your short time to see everything. Study and plan out what attractions are most important to you. There is no way to see everything in only two days. I would recommend that at night you catch the Main Street Electric Parade and the evening fireworks at Disney. In the winter the parks close early, as Disney World closes at 8pm and Epcot will close at 9pm. The fireworks show at Epcot is also very impressive.

Contact me at any time if you have any questions. Have fun!!!
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