Fire & Ice – Fireworks Photoshoot

First Burst

I attended my first Meetup.com event recently. The planned shoot was a fireworks display that happens in the Old Port of Montreal every Saturday night. This being my first fireworks shoot, I was pretty excited. The people in the group were great. It was nice to meet other photographers at various levels and hear some of the techniques they used. A big thanks to Brad who let me use his White Balance lens cap what-ever-its-called and has now succeeded in adding another thing to my long list of ‘wants’.

We were lucky to have great weather and set up along a railing overlooking a skating rink. We were all well dressed and well equipped. The fireworks lasted about 20min, so there wasn’t much time to move around. After I took a couple of shots, I soon realized that all my shots would most likely look the same – not to mention the same as everyone else on the balcony (this was proven wrong with I saw the other shots). I took a quick run to change positions and found a quite spot out back. The obstructed view of the small tower was perfect for a different kind of shot. I think my best pictures were from there. I had to Photoshop out an orange window, but very little changes after that.

I had brought a cheap tripod to the shoot which was the wrong idea. It was actually too short to see over the railing. I was able to mono-pod it by putting the legs together and then leaning it against the railing, wrapping the camera strap around the bars. Most of my exposures were about 3 seconds, so I was a little surprised when those shots ended up being crisp.

The best shot out of the group was from a guy name Vlad. He did a great panoramic using 12 images seamed together in Photoshop. The impressive part was that the fireworks in the shot look spectacular and the coloring looks perfect. Add that to the lists of things I have to try.

A Few Comments from the Shoot:

  • Go and setup early
  • Take some quick shots before hand to see how long an exposure would be to get the surroundings without the fireworks
  • White balancing before helps (thanks again Brad)
  • You have very little time to change your lens, so make sure you get it right the first time
  • Camera on Blub (about 3 sec), f/11 and ISO 100 worked great for me
  • Start the exposure when you hear the pop of the firework launching, end the exposure when it crests
  • Keep in mind that the longer you open it, the more bursts you will get
  • I had an IR remote for the camera, but a wired one would have been a better solution
  • Buy a good tripod
  • Change your point of view

Images from the Shoot:

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