HOME · Twitter · Flickr · LinkedIn · publications · @ Ars Technica · Running IPv6 (Apress, 2005) · BGP (O'Reilly, 2002) · BGPexpert.com · presentations · iljitsch@muada.com

Photographing fireworks remains tricky business

Posted 2014-08-22

Tonight is the third night of the Scheveningen International Fireworks Festival! Hopefully the rain will be done by then. Photographing fireworks remains tricky business, though.

Last week, I used my trusty Nikon D7100 with the 18-55 mm kit lens. The zoom range is fairly suitable here, and it has image stabilization, so I was able to get reasonably sharp photos at 1/8th of a second hand-held. However, they're not quite as sharp as I hoped, so maybe if the weather is good tonight I'm going to take a tripod, so I can use even longer shutter times to get more of the streaming effect.

It could be that a lot of the movement in the fireworks in caused by the wind blowing the fireworks away, though. A tripod isn't going to help against that.

I set up the camera for "back button focus", so I had more control over the autofocus. Back button focus means programming the AE-L/AF-L button for "AF-ON". With this setting, pressing the shutter doesn't make autofocus happen, you need to press the AE-L/AF-L button for that. This way, there's no autofocus delay when shooting, which is useful with fireworks, because the autofocus system can't always get a good focus lock on it. But with cheap zoom lenses it's important to refocus after zooming, because the focus drifts when zooming. A quick press of the AE-L/AF-L button while pointing the camera at a distant light takes care of that.

I set the aperture and shutter speed manually, but used auto ISO so the camera would adjust the ISO to match the brightness of the fireworks. I experimented with -0.7 to -2 exposure compensation, and -1.3 seemed to work the best.

Search for:
RSS feed (no photos) - RSS feed (photos only)
Home, archives: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014