Kate's Fireworks Technique - 2015 Update

"Painting the Town"

"O Beautiful For Halcyon Skies"
Fireworks over Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA

 

Hello all! For this years Independence Day celebration I photographed the fireworks at the scenic Steel Stacks in nearby Bethlehem, PA. Every year I try to create something different. A few years ago I posted a blog about a unique technique that I came up. The idea centers around using a long exposure and a black card to block and reveal the lens only when a firework bursts. You choose how much of each burst to "keep." Typically I'll use a 30 second to one minute exposure to artfully craft my photograph. For a detailed description of how to, check out the prior blog entry copied below...

July 4th BethlehemJuly 4th BethlehemIndependence Day
Bethlehem, PA
4th of July4th of JulyIndependence Day
Bethlehem, PA
   


Gallery of photographs from past years: [Fireworks]


 

2013 Blog: http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/7/kates-2013-fireworks-technique

 

"Painting the Town"Painting the Town

"Painting the Town"
Fireworks over New York City, NY

 

Fireworks are one of my favorite subjects! Every year, I photograph them at a different location and with a different style. In 2013 I used a special long exposure technique that I have been tinkering with to capture the Fourth of July fireworks and New York City skyline. I like to think of it as light painting on a grander scale. Read on to learn the how and why:

With my camera's shutter speed set to 30 seconds I used a black card to repeatedly block or reveal the lens during the exposure. Every time a firework would go up I would wait until it burst to quickly remove the card. Then I would immediately recover it and wait until the next big burst. In one single 30 second exposure, I may have covered and uncovered my lens several dozen times.

Why do this? Just leaving the shutter open unblocked for 30 seconds would make an overly bright image with all this clutter of every firework and light motion. If you want more than one firework in a single image you would otherwise have to stack several images and Photoshop them together. This technique with blocking the lens when there is no active firework allows the rest of the image to remain properly exposed. That way you only capture the best moments... the bursts!

This kind of creative technique gives you results based on your movements and artistry. You get to "create" the shot. I think its fun!

 

Fun fact: I got the idea from my film developing days. To dodge an enlargement you would physically block part of it out. I combined that technique with my light painting experience and came up with this.

 


See the results of Kate's firework techniques from past years: [Fireworks]

   

 


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