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Boomsday XXI

August 31, 2008 was the 21st annual Boomsday fireworks show.  It is always one of the largest fireworks show in the South Eastern United States on Labor Day Weekend.  This year, it was said to be the largest fireworks show in the whole US on that weekend.  It always takes place on the Tennessee River.

Fireworks are actually very easy to shoot.  You need a tripod and a good view.  The hardest thing to come by can be the good view.  Most people will watch the Boomsday fireworks from Neyland Drive, but there is a slight problem…  along the riverbank, there is a line of trees that can obstruct your view some.  To get around this, move to higher ground.  Luckily, this is the University of Tennessee and higher ground is in abundance.  Since I work on campus in a building that is in a prime spot for viewing and photographing, I just went to my office.

Now back to how to photograph fireworks.  As I’ve mentioned, its really easy.  I personally like to use a low ISO.  ISO 200 is about the maximum I’ll go when photographing fireworks.  Set your aperture to something between medium and small such as f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22.  Finally set your shutter speed on bulb.  If your camera doesn’t have a bulb setting, 5 or 10 seconds is probably a good setting.  Turn off your flash.  The flash will do nothing to help you capture the fireworks.  Only use a fill flash if you want to photograph a firework in the background and a person or some other subject in the foreground.  If you are shooting digital, you’ll need to set your white balance.  Auto or daylight work really good. Tungsten works well too.  If your camera has the ability to shoot RAW, you may want to shoot RAW so you can adjust the white balance later.  S

What you want to try to do is to start the exposure right before it is launched and end it after it explodes.  You way want to wait until after the first in a sequence goes off.  This will allow you to reposition your camera and make any adjustments to the aperture and composition if you choose.  If you want to capture multiple bursts, there are a couple of ways to do it.  One is to leave the shutter open for longer.   You have to make sure areas aren’t getting blown out.  Another method is to combine them later in Photoshop.  This works really good by layering each picture and using the screen blending option.

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