Tips to Photograph Fireworks at Thunder Over Louisville

April 21, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

 

Tips to Photograph Fireworks at Thunder Over Louisville ISO 250; f/3.5; 1/10 secondThunder Over Louisville

 

Did you just get a DSLR camera and want to try to photograph fireworks at Thunder Over Louisville? Here are some tips to help you capture the magic of the biggest pyrotechnic show in North America. 

 

Once you have your DSLR, you only need a few tools to help you capture your best shot. 

 

A good location - Capturing the burst of fire in the sky can make a good photograph. But if you want to create a better image, one that will make your friends woo and awe, think of the scene. What makes your location unique? In my photograph, top left, it shows perspective, the size of the show compared to the bridges across the Ohio River and the steamboat. The bridges and steamboat showcase the location of the photo, just as the Washington Monument or Statue of Liberty would in their locations. Here were my settings for that image: ISO 250; f/3.5; 1/10 second.

 

Another tip when selecting location is to be aware of the wind direction that the smoke and soot is blowing. If the smoke blows your way, you might not get a chance to take additional photographs. But it can create a cool effect with a long exposure as seen the image below of the pink smoke streaming across the Ohio River. Here were my settings for that image: ISO 100; f/4.0; 2.5 seconds.

 

A tripod - Don’t think you can get a good shot hand-holding your camera, you need a tripod for the long exposures, anywhere from a 1/10 of a second to two to three seconds. The times will vary depending on the brightness of the fireworks. Red fireworks require the shortest exposure time.

ISO 100; f/4.0; 2.5 secondsThunder Over Louisville 2011-0394 Louisville Fireworks Thunder-2010-20
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge Over Pastel Waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

A remote release - I have a remote trigger for my Nikon, some camera models will use a cable release cord. There have been some years where I have not been able to use the release because of the crowd standing next to me. In that case, you will have to carefully operate the shutter release on the camera, be care not to move or shake the camera or tripod, you don't want a blurry image.

ISO 100; f/4.8; 2.3 secondsThunder Over Louisville 2011-0301

 

An understanding of your camera settings -  Use your Manual setting on your camera. You will need to set it to the Bulb setting. You will also need to turn on the long-exposure noise reduction setting on the camera. If you don’t know how to use the bulb setting try turning your flash off and using your sports and/or night settings, and today some cameras have a fireworks setting for your long exposure. I would alternate to see what gives you the best shot. 
 

A fully charged battery - Because you Louisville Fireworks Thunder-2010-34 will be talking a couple of hundred photos, with the hopes of getting a couple of dozen good shots during the

28-minute show. Also make sure you have enough shots left for the end of the show. Those need to be short exposures because there is so much light.

 

Look for Abstracts - Shooting fireworks also lends itself to getting some cool abstract images of the streaming pyrotechnics.  One of my favorites is the photo above with the lights shooting off the bridge.

 

Some other tips that the pros use include moving a card in front of the open shutter to limit the exposure to the light of the fireworks during the extended exposure.I have tried this but I am typically in a crowed area, elbow to elbow, and that technique has not worked for me. 

 

Rick Sammon’s Photo Buffet iPhone app has some handy tips for those carrying along their iPhone. Also, be sure to carry a flashlight, it might come in handy. 

 

In your post processing, try changing your images to black and white, below is the same image that is at the top of the page. I can't decide which one I like best. 

 

Good luck and happy shooting!   

 

Thunder Over Louisville in Monotone

 

 


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