Archive for fireworks

Great Mississippi River balloon race

Posted in Thirsty Thursday with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2011 by bayouphoto

Every year, in October, the city of Natchez, Ms. holds the Great Mississippi River balloon race.It starts Friday night with a balloon glow and a fireworks show. The only problem I saw was the crowds, lines and the parking. We found a spot a couple of blocks away and paid to get in. Next time I wouldn’t pay to get into the balloon glow as there are other balloons at various sites around the city and Vidalia. There is a small carnival held on the grounds for the children.

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When we arrived some of the balloons had already taken flight.

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We left before dark because the schedule said the fireworks would start at 7 PM. I asked a security guard where they would actually shoot the fireworks and he said “From a barge, in the river, just north of the bridge. We headed for an old parking lot just north of the fair grounds. There is a fence, sidewalk and overlook of the river.

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I took the shots while waiting. What we didn’t know was they had to wait for a 30 minute window in the river barge traffic. That meant it was almost 9 PM when the fireworks started.

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Click the photo to see it larger

It really was a good show they put on.

The next day we were going for the “Key grab” balloon flight. They put a key, to a new GMC truck, on top of the rock climbing tower and if a balloon pilot could grab it they won the truck. We went to the Vidalia side to have the sun behind us and sit on the River Walk. The balloons have to have a 5MPH or less wind to take off so it was after 5 PM when they did.

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We had a good time and saw some very colorful balloons.


Tech Tuesday: Shooting fireworks

Posted in Tech Tuesday with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by bayouphoto

Nope, not talking about how to set them off but how to capture them in a photograph. I shot the local show then when I posted them on FacebookI got a comment saying ” My photos never look like this” Perfect reason for a tutorial.

How to achieve this look

First you must shoot them correctly. I shoot only RAW format. The show was to start at 9 PM and as I had never been to the show I got there early to scout out a good location. There was a pond, at the base of the levee and I sat up at the end of it. I first mounted my 55-250 not knowing exactly how far away I would be.

I always shoot in manual exposure and pre-focus at the expected distance. I set f11 and 3.2 seconds as my exposure figuring they would be firing pretty fast and I didn’t want to many explosions per shot. I also put on my Vivitar wireless remote shutter release and took a test shot. Once the shooting started I was constantly checking and adjusting the exposure. After the first few shots I changed to the 18-55 and ended up at 5 seconds, firing the shutter as soon as it closed from the previous shot.

Once home I imported to lightroom, keyworded and added them to a collection. then I selected the best to develop. Here is a video of that.

I hope this helps and you are ready for your next show.

Blue Monday: Happy 4th

Posted in Blue Monday with tags , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2011 by bayouphoto

I took this photo last Saturday night, at the Monroe JayCees fireworks show

Christmas Festival of lights, fireworks

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by bayouphoto

As stated in an earlier post I went to Natchitoches to see the fireworks show. From prior experience I knew that the normal viewing area along the river was to close and too crowded. I also did not want to be caught in the traffic jam down around the Church St. bridge. What we did was park in a small open area at the corner of Williams and Keyser Ave. My plan was to shoot the show from the Keyser/Hwy 494 bridge. It is a large bridge with pedestrian lanes. I wanted to get the reflections in the water of the Cane river.

The show started at 7 PM, so we set up at about 6:40 to get a very good spot. With tripods in place, we set our cameras at ISO 100 and f8, using our 18-55 lenses. The shutter speed would vary due to the speed of the explosions.

I started out shooting in landscape mode.

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After the first couple of shots I realized 5 seconds was too long. I first went to 2 seconds.This was too slow so I went to 3.2 for the remainder. I was using a wired remote shutter release and actuating the shutter as soon as it closed, from the previous shot.I was not getting enough reflection so I changed to portrait mode for the remainder.The wind was blowing causing ripples in the water and the explosions to blow away quickly, but it did keep the smoke away.There will not be a show Christmas eve, however there will be a big one New years eve. I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe learned something.

Natchitoches Christmas festival

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , on December 5, 2010 by bayouphoto

Every year the town of Natchitoches, La. has a Christmas festival of lights and fireworks. I plan to attend the 18th century Christmas at the state historic site and the Creole Christmas at the Creole state site.

The light and fireworks show is held on Cane river lake and is spectacular. The best place to shoot is from the Hwy 1 bridge over the Cane river. This will be the third time I have attended

Photo of the week: Fractalius Fireworks

Posted in photo of the week with tags , , , , on July 25, 2010 by bayouphoto

I found out about this Photoshop plug in while reading Places to Explore blog. It seemed really cool so I got a trial for it.

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I will have a review and tutorial Tuesday. You can find out more here

Tip Thursday: How to shoot fireworks

Posted in Tip Thursday with tags , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by bayouphoto

As the economy goes further down it seems there are less and less great fireworks shows, However even your own personal show can produce stunning photos. As a matter of fact it is easier to control your own.

Capturing the spectacle of a firework display is all about predicting when and where the most dramatic events are going to take place. Try to find out where the main display at your event will be taking place, and where the fireworks will be fired from. To capture the wider view of large public displays it’s often best to avoid the most popular spots close to the action. At popular events you’ll struggle to find enough room to set up your tripod – a necessity to shoot the display – and you’ll also often be too close to the action. It’s much better to find a spot that gives you a viewpoint over the whole display, to allow you to capture as many of the individual fireworks as possible. It’s worth going back to the busier areas if you want to try some portraits of family and friends around the fire though.

When searching for a place to shoot the display, look out for things to use to enhance your images. Flood-lit buildings are great for giving a sense of place, while water can create amazing reflections to add an extra element to your pictures. Unless you’ve been to the same display before, trying to predict where many of the fireworks are going to explode can be tricky. Some rockets can go hundreds of feet in the air before they create their light show. The wide-angle end of a standard zoom will give a broad enough view for most displays, but if you have one it’s worth taking a wider lens just in case the rockets go much higher. While the results can be pretty hit or miss, the unpredictability can lead to some great results. Don’t expect every shot to be a winner and make sure you shoot plenty!

If there’s a fire (or floodlights) near to the fireworks display you can include the light from this to give your shots an extra glow, rather than simply recording the fireworks against a black sky. As the subject is much brighter than the surroundings the exposure times are a little more hit or miss than for just the fireworks themselves, so experiment with shutter speeds and aperture settings.

How to set up your shots

The intermittent and unpredictable nature of fireworks means that the automatic exposure systems will rarely give you good results. Instead you’ll need to set the camera to manual exposure mode and set the shutter speed and aperture yourself. As it will be dark then bright as the fireworks explode, it’s also very difficult to use the metering to gauge the exposure needed. Although you’re working ‘in the dark’ when it comes to exposure it’s not as difficult as it first appears, as there are some handy tricks that will help you to get the results spot-on.

Using a Tripods

You’ll need a longer shutter speed to capture several bursts than if there are loads of fireworks going off in quick succession. For most displays a shutter speed of between 8 seconds and 30 seconds will give you plenty of action. Your shutter speeds will run into several seconds, so you’ll need to put the camera on a tripod and release the shutter using  a remote release to combat camera shake.

Select manual exposure

The light will vary from almost pitch-black to bright during your exposures, so you need to select the manual exposure option and ignore any reading from the metering. With very little light you’ll find that the auto-focus will struggle, so set the camera to manual focus. As you’ll be some distance from the subject set the focus on the lens to infinity. The shutter speed is more about the number of bursts that you capture than the exposure of the result. When it comes to ISO, set the camera to the lowest ISO possible to minimize noise. You can try fast settings such as ISO 800 or 1600 to allow you to shoot portraits using the glow of the bonfire, but expect plenty of noise or grain.

Aperture & shutter speeds

With the camera set to ISO 100 you should try exposures at apertures of f/8 and f/16. As a guide, if you’re close to the fireworks use f/16 and if you’re shooting from a distance use mainly f/8. If you’re using ISO 200 then set f/22 for close subjects and f/16 for distant displays. The shutter speeds are less critical than the aperture for the brightness of your image, but they do affect how many bursts and how much of the display you will record in a single frame.