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First attempt at photographing fireworks

My town held their annual fireworks on July 2nd, 2009.  (Yes, two days early, it’s cheaper then; according to the mayor they were done at “no taxpayer expense”).  I took advantage of this to try my hand at taking pictures of fireworks for the first time with my new camera (Canon Rebel T1i).

Before I started, I read some of the tips from Digital Photography School, PetaPixel, and Scott Kelby’s book (page 175).  I decided to use my EF28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens, set at f/11 on bulb exposure mode (tripod mounted, lens hood attached, wireless remote used to trigger the shutter).  I didn’t want to fight the crowds over at the park, so I set my tripod up on the sidewalk near my house.  I’ve watched from here in past years, the view isn’t bad, but is occasionally obstructed by trees.  I’ll need to find a better spot for next year, as I discovered that there were power lines in the way that obstructed many of the photos that I took.  I cropped them out in most cases, but you can see them in a few of the photos below.

The first half of the photos were taken in JPEG mode because I forgot to switch the camera to RAW mode before I started.  I took 75 photos total, and eliminated about half of them (empty frames, too much blur, only a small bit of firework in the frame, etc.)  I processed the remaining 43 in Lightroom (mostly cropping and exposure adjustments).

What I learned from this experience:

  • Most images were slightly overexposed.  I’ll either try a smaller aperture or will manually set the ISO to 100 or 200 next time.
  • Find a spot where power lines and trees won’t get in the way.
  • Watch out for mosquitoes.  (Ok, not much I can do about that one…)

Overall, I don’t think they came out too badly for a first attempt.  You can see a slideshow of the results below.  (Click here to see them if you don’t have Flash enabled).  You can click on a photo from the slideshow to see a larger version in the gallery.

(If you’re viewing this from within Facebook’s ‘Notes’ application, you’ll need to click here to see the full post with the photos)

Have a Happy 4th of July! I’ll be in Cherry Hill tonight (they do their fireworks on the correct night, unlike some towns), so I’ll have a second chance for pictures (and a first chance for BBQ, since we cooked steaks indoors on Thursday instead of grilling).

 
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