St. Augustine Fireworks

2015.07.04
Day Two Hundred and Twenty Six. Photographing fireworks is hard. You have to show up ridiculously early (which I did not do) to get the best possible vantage point (which I categorically failed to do). You have to be able to predict where they're going to explode (which I cheated at) and account for wind direction (which I ignored, but got lucky with).

I showed up (maybe) 20 minutes before the show was supposed to start. Do not do this. I had to fight for a spot to stick my tripod just so I didn't have to shoot over people's shoulders. It was not fun. I wasn't able to stand next to my tripod. I had to stand behind it and say "excuse me" to at least 3 people every time I wanted to change settings.

Since changing lenses was out of the question, I opted for 24mm and hoped I'd be able to catch everything and crop later. Thankfully, I got that mostly right. There were a few that exploded high, but the vast majority fit in the frame. I started on ISO 400, but had too many blown highlights. I'd learned from years past that stopping down helps control blown highlights, so I started and stayed at f/16. In the end, I think the best settings were ISO 100 & f/16.

Shutter speed is best controlled with a remote shutter release. It's a lot of guess work, but the idea is to open the shutter right before it explodes and after it's done, trying to capture as few in-between explosions as possible. It's kind of a form of spray-and-pray, but since you can't control the timing of the fireworks going off, you don't have much choice.

All that being said, I don't think I'm going to shoot fireworks anymore. It's not nearly as fun as it looks, they're not fun to edit, and, in the future, I'd much rather sit back, relax, and enjoy the show :)
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