Lindsborg Fireworks 2006

I’m happy to report that my recent attempts at photographing fireworks worked reasonably well. I had a chance to practice Sunday night at the Kanopolis fireworks display and used that experience on Tuesday at the annual Lindsborg Fireworks show. I was situated about two blocks south of the fireworks, and had a great view on a mostly calm evening.

I used a tripod, of course, and somewhat surprisingly, my aperture was set to f/8 while using a film speed setting of ASA 100. Turns out that fireworks, like lightning and the moon, are fairly bright, so a typical daylight setting is appropriate. Also like lightning, but unlike the moon, exposure times are quite lengthy compared to normal photographs. Most of my fireworks photos were exposed for 2-9 seconds.

One of the interesting challenges with fireworks is deciding when to open the shutter. Too soon and the rocket trails can lighten the overall image too much; on the other hand, the white launch trail is pretty dramatic, as evidenced by some of the photos I took. Framing is another issue to consider. I used a fairly wide angle so that I captured the whole display in most images, and cropped slightly to remove the dead space. I like the results quite a bit, but there’s no denying the images that are more tightly zoomed are also very dramatic. Sometimes the off-axis framing was inadvertent, as some shells had slightly different trajectories than others; trying to center a moving firework explosion on the fly is a bit tricky!

Post-processing of the images was very minimal. I reduced the brightness just enough to turn the sky really dark, and bumped the saturation a very tiny amount.

Overall I found about 50 keepers, and they are posted at my Flickr fireworks set. I couldn’t decide on the best 5 images, so instead went for a baker’s dozen; click any of the images below to view the entire set at Flickr:

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th

Lindsborg fireworks, July 4th