Special Situation Photography Print

Some things are more complicated than others--shooting fireworks and city lights, for example.  Usually, a good camera is required.  Because we don't do them very often, we often forget all that is involved.  Hence, this brief essay on some of those situations. 




Shooting fireworks is daunting, but it's really exciting and when you get a good shot, it's REALLY exciting.  It's very low-yield;  you'll have to take 100 or more exposures to get a few good ones.  A tripod is essential--unless, as I once did, you happen to be in a wheelchair and can prop your camera steadily on your knees.  A remote shutter release is advisable.  Some other rules of thumb:


Use ISO 100 or 200.

Set the camera to Manual operation.

Set the lens to f/13 and set focus to infinity.

Use a medium range telephoto lens.  My best fireworks photos have been around 100mm (using a full frame sensor camera).

Set shutter speed to BULB.

Many instructors (including mine) suggest leaving the shutter open for 10 to 60 seconds.  My favorite photos are between 1.5 and 8 seconds.

Pre-select the area at which you will shoot, being careful to avoid any other items in the scene, such as trees, power lines and street lamps.

Check each shot and fine tune your area of interest (which will become apparent after the first few bursts).

Try to get your shots in during the first 15 minutes or so because with each burst of fireworks, more smoke is left in the sky.

Experiment and have fun!

Shooting fireworks is, as I said, very low yield, but it's gratifying when you get at least one good photo.  Click the thumbnail below to see a few of mine.



City Lights

Night scene photography is particularly gratifying for me.  I love the effects that city lights give and especially enjoy the lighting provided by moving traffic.  The following is good basic advice (distilled from Mark Comon's notes from my first city lights expedition with him and fine tuned several times):

Use ISO 100 or 200.

Set the camera to Aperture Priority operation, using matrix metering and Mirror Up mode.

Set the aperture from f/2.8 to f/22 depending on how much depth of field you want and how long an exposure you need.

Focus manually.

A tripod is mandatory and a remote shutter release is advisable.  Click the thumbnail below to see a few of my city lights photos.