GUEST | SHOOTING FIREWORKS

Guest Blog by Mainak Biswas.  He completed post-grad from IIT Madras, Tamil Nadu, India, and is currently working as an engineer in Japan… In his own words, “There is nothing much to know about me… I write whenever I see something funny or worth sharing!”

You can find his Blog Dynamic Equilibrium in the following link: http://dynamic-eqbm.blogspot.de/

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MB_Blog01_(01)
Curtain Raiser… Photo: Mainak Biswas

In India, we have an entire festival dedicated to illumination and fireworks, Diwali – the festival of lights… But while I was in India, neither did I own a DSLR, nor was I much interested in clicking fireworks, as, like most other kids, I was more inclined towards bursting crackers rather than capturing them.

Although Japan doesn’t have a festival dedicated to fireworks, nor is the-common-man is allowed to burst fire-crackers. But, on the contrary, around the end of summer, there are big firework shows (花火大会) in almost every important city of this country…

Fortunately, I had a chance to view a couple of them this summer. One is the city in which I presently live (Oita [大分]) and the other in a city called Osaka (大阪). [Although I had heard that Osaka’s firework-show is one of the best in Japan, personally, I found the one in Oita to be far better].

Green sparks...
Green sparks… Photo: Mainak Biswas
Photo: Mainak Biswas
Across the sky… Photo: Mainak Biswas

Since it was the first time that I was going to shoot a complete fireworks show, I had done some background reading from the internet; from which I concluded that the location and the timing is of utmost importance. I mounted my camera on a sturdy tripod and positioned it so that the two-thirds of the frame was the sky, and the remaining one-third was the water, so as to try and capture the reflection.

Multiple Colors... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Multiple Colors… Photo: Mainak Biswas
Blast away... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Blast away… Photo: Mainak Biswas
In a row... Photo: Mainak Biswas
In a row… Photo: Mainak Biswas

Here are some important aspects I learnt about Capturing fireworks:

  •  Ideally we want a long exposure anywhere between 1-30 seconds for a silky water effect. But, in events like these, there are too many fireworks fired in a relatively small interval of time, making some shots too bright as well as making the bursts in-decipherable from each other. I realized this in the first 10-12 mins, and henceforth the max exposure I used was 5 secs.
  • It’s better to disengage the auto-focus on your lens (manually set it to Infinity) and shoot in complete manual mode (at times using the “bulb mode” for random exposure). The problem with auto focus in these cases is that the camera will try to refocus after every single burst, thereby losing the “crisp-ness” of the snap.
Across dark skies... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Across dark skies… Photo: Mainak Biswas
Colorful reflections... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Colorful reflections… Photo: Mainak Biswas
Purple it is... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Purple it is… Photo: Mainak Biswas

And, now comes those three pictures which I call the “Special Three“.

Strategy used to capture these: after the first burst, cover the lens with the black lens cap; move the camera a little bit, remove the cover just at the time of the next burst and so on. In this way, I was able to capture 3~4 bursts on the same picture without they overlapping on each-other!! 🙂

Special Three - 1... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Special Three – 1… Photo: Mainak Biswas
Special Three - 2... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Special Three – 2… Photo: Mainak Biswas
Special Three - 3... Photo: Mainak Biswas
Special Three – 3… Photo: Mainak Biswas

Equipment used:

  • Camera: Nikon D7000
  • Lens: Nikkor 18-200 mm Lens
  • Camera Settings:
  1. ISO: 100
  2. Aperture: f/11, f/14, f/16

PS : I had finished writing a week back, but I thought of uploading it just before Diwali…

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(Originally posted in Dynamic Equillibrium on 26th October 2013)


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