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User / Pixelated Sky / Pyrotechnical Blur
Peter Whitfield / 510 items

Every year the village runs one of the major firework displays in the locality. Entry is free (which is unusual around here) and there is a collection for several charities. Much beer is also served by the village brewery!

I can see the fireworks display from upstairs in my house over the rooftops opposite, and every year I watch from the warmth and comfort, often with a glass of red wine… The luxuries of country living :)

So for about twenty minutes annually I practice my fireworks photography. I learn a bit every time. The basic technique I use is to shoot with manual focus and shutter speed on Bulb (so holding the shutter button down keeps the shutter open), and wait for something to happen and a bit then release it. It’s important to manually focus (near to infinity) beforehand otherwise the camera gets very unhappy. Rinse and repeat. For twenty minutes.

The perfect firework explosion flower is a rarity and arrives by chance rather than skill (though you can usually see the mortars going up beforehand for the big ones and get ready). In fact everything happens by chance.

The main problems are smoke (particularly if the air is damp) and multiple fireworks competing with each other. This year I also learnt that I need to check the focus regularly as I lost about half the shots when the focus got knocked off somehow :(

In previous years I discovered that, even at best, my firework pictures looked much like everyone else's (prolific) good ones. So I started experimenting with moving the camera while taking the shot.

A whole new world of fun and curiosity exploded before me like a firework flower… It’s kind of light painting I guess, blurring the fire trail across the sensor, and some amazingly complex and indecipherable concoctions emerge. Here is one from this year.

This is one of the more interesting ones. It's a single shot and in just under a second you can see about six or seven mortars in various stages of exploding (three main ones to maturity). You can even play spot-the-tree in the foreground, if you are so minded :)

The motion of the camera records the linear history of each explosion as the camera moves from side to side. If you decrypt this one, for the firework on the left the camera was going left, for the one on the right the camera was moving right and the one in the middle a bit of both. I think. Maybe... So you get an overall exploding from the middle effect.

This is for the Smile on Saturday group’s Motion Blur theme today. I hope it counts as it’s more a smeared light source than a reflected light blur :( I thought it might be something different to add the collection of super images that have already been posted. A theme to enjoy if ever there was one :)

Thank you for taking the time to look. I hope you enjoy the image. Happy Smile on Saturday!

[Handheld with small movements of the camera; manual pre-focus; manual shutter on Bulb.
Developed in Lightroom, cropping and rotating slightly.
Increased exposure but reduced shadows and blacks to get rid of the smoke.
Bumped saturation and vibrancy to make the most of the colour.
Clarity made little difference.
Into Affinity Photo. I tried the usual triumvirate of sharpening adjustments and the best one this time was the High Pass/ Linear Blend combination which tends to be good with long edges and lines.
The colour was ramped aggressively using a Curves adjustment in LAB mode and increasing the gradients of the A and B channel lines. The opacity of this layer was reduced to about 40%, which adds to the complexity of the colours.
Finally, I added a Maximum Blur adjustment blending using Saturation mode which added to the saturation (just messing around really, but recorded here for posterity lol)]
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  • Taken: Nov 30, 2019
  • Uploaded: Nov 30, 2019
  • Updated: Apr 19, 2020