Last week, I returned to the town of Polo, which I did a post on two weeks ago. This week, the quaint downtown was invaded by a carnival. The reason? Like so many small towns in the area, Polo has an annual festival. Such festivals include rides, food, and often a parade. Polo’s even features fireworks, which is one reason my sister and found ourselves in the town last week, other than visiting family. Photographing fireworks can be difficult, especially considering that the Polo show was no more than half an hour this year due to the financial strain everyone is facing. Getting a clean shot can also be tough because of houses, trees, telephone wires, and crowds. Polo may not be big, but the town generally puts on a good show, so people from surrounding communities often show up for the event.
Photographing fireworks is tricky business. A tripod is mandatory for serious work. My first attempt at firework photography was in highschool, and I used film. Not very many shots and no ability to see what the previous shots looked like. However, I did have one or two OK shots. Since then, I’ve shot digital. The first step is to make sure you have a fresh memory card in your camera and another one easily available. Shoot a lot. You never know what it’s going to end up looking like. Why? To capture any spread of fireworks, you need to press the shutter release before the shells blow. I set my shutter on bulb, my ISO on 200 or so, and adjust the f/stop for exposure (using at least f/16). Timing comes with experience and some guesswork, but a rule of thumb is to expose from launch till the blasts disappear. This is not always practical, especially during the finally when there is non-stop launching and photographic visual chaos. Generally, I focus and frame on the first blast, but I may decide I need to move the entire tripod. Also, you may need to change framing frequently during the show. Since the Polo fireworks presented a range of heights and there were some vehicles and trees I had to shoot over, I had to change framing frequently. Since it was a short show, I only took around 70 shots. Here are some of my favorites:
The fireworks are the kickoff for the weekend festival. Next morning, I headed downtown to get some shots of the carnival warming up for its first afternoon of operation. The same downtown block I’d photographed just weeks before was now in party mode and ready for the fun to begin. It just needed a few more people. And they’d be there.
Next Week: 50mm Project I’m giving myself a challenge: shoot all the photos for next week’s post using an old, manual focus prime lens. It can only be good for me. The lens is a bit wider than I’m used shooting at, but it wouldn’t hurt me to limit myself to just a tad longer than a normal lens.