If you follow any photography blogs, they probably have a post of ‘Fireworks Photo Tips’ this week. Obviously, this site is focused on photos, so here is my take! Firstly, I enjoy watching fireworks shows. Since it is both an audio, and visual experience, I do not want to spend the entire night concentrating on photos. Thus, I make my setup flexible for me to both capture images while enjoying the show live. As can be seen in the following photo, this is my setup:
At this time, I mounted the camera on a tripod with a 24mm wide-angle lens. Additionally, I installed a remote release so that I could open the shutter without having my hand on the camera. This is the small cord coming out of the left of the camera body. For camera settings, I have the shutter speed set on ‘bulb’. When you have the camera in this mode, you can control when the shutter opens and closes by pressing on the remote release.
With this in mind, I point the camera in the direction of where I think the fireworks will be exploding overhead. With the wide angle lens, there is a good chance that I will get the fireworks in the frame. Moreover, in your post-processing application, you can crop to a nice composition later. Since the backgrounds are dark and the subjects are just streaks of light, these files can handle a lot of cropping.
When I see the firework shot into the sky, I press the remote to open the shutter. Soon after the brightest flash, I close the shutter again to capture the full explosion. You will likely have to spot check during the show to see a result. However, don’t take too long! Adjust your timing quickly so you can go back to watching the show at the same time. Happy 4th!
Fog can do a photographer a lot of favors. In our part of the world, it is not a common occurrence for us to have foggy days. So if you are looking to get images of familiar places in a new light, adding a bit of fog can be helpful. Sometimes I come upon a scene, and it is not immediately apparent where I should start. Compositions with fog gets me excited since there is a completely different feel right off the bat. I know from the beginning that I am going to get something out of the ordinary, so my creativity neurons start firing when I start looking through the camera.
Fog acts as a large light diffuser. If there is a sun above it cannot cut through the fog directly affecting your scene. It’s light is spread out across a larger area making the light cast more even. This is the reason why you see studio photographer using large boxes where they place their flashes. A larger light source will make the perceived light softer on your subjects. Fog will automatically do this for landscape scenes.
Having clear subjects in photos is also a challenge for
me. Strong photographs usually have an undeniably clear main subject. With fog
it can be easier to isolate a subject for your composition. Clouds in the sky
can sometimes make my photos too busy – the fog took care of that problem for
me! The stark emptiness adds to the mood while focusing the viewer to what ever
is left in the scene. It can give a sense of melancholy, or foreboding, but it
does achieve the goal of setting a mood.
There has been a lot of excitement lately with the new iPhone 6 and iOS camera improvements from Apple. Even though I am not upgrading from my iPhone 5, I am enjoying using the new features that come from the operating system update. Smartphones are really quite amazing in what the programmers can add and change without having a change to the hardware. As a photographer that is used to having more control over the exposure, I like the ability to have more controls. Previously, you hold your finger over a part of the image to set an area to meter the exposure. This really helps to get some control over the brightnes in the photo.
In the new iOS 8 version of the camera, you can still specify a point to get a meter reading. Now, an additional control has been added. To the side of the box that pops up after you select a metered area, there is a sun icon that appears. You can then move that sun up to increase the exposure, or down to decrease the exposure from that point. This really came in handy as we walked through the amazing displays at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The glass that they use for display is so clear. You can put your smartphone right up to the glass without getting bad reflections through the lens. They also control the amount of stray light coming in with their darkened rooms,. This really puts the animals front and center. With the new exposure controls, I could ensure that the meter readings were taken from the bodies floating in the water, then took down the exposure. This helped to make a faster shutter speed to keep the subjects sharp, and helped to pop them out of the background. This was probably my most re-tweeted image yet!