We’ve all seen images of fireworks. There are various special techniques for photographing them. One such technique is to set the camera for a long exposure (5-10 seconds). Set the composition to capture the origin of the firework (where is is set off) all the way to where it explodes. Start the exposure when the firework is set off, wait a second, place a black shield in front of the lens for a second, take it away for a second, and repeat this process for the entire exposure allowing for more exposure when the firework finally explodes. This technique results in a firework from start to finish without over exposing the entire image.
Another technique is what I call “focus blur”. I recently posted an article about “zoom blur” in my blog. This is similar only in that the focus ring is rotated during the exposure instead of the zoom ring. Determine the composition, set the camera for a long exposure (2-5 seconds) and set the lens to manual focus. Rotate the focus ring such that the image is out of focus. Start the exposure and rotate the focus ring into sharp focus before the exposure ends. Going to sharp focus is the tricky part. You cannot look though the view finder during the exposure…nor does live view work. So you have to know where sharp focus is and return to that spot during the exposure. It takes practice but I think you’ll agree that the results can be stunning.
Below are a few examples from a fireworks display on October 13, 2012 in Oregon City, Oregon as a part of the Arch Bridge re-opening celebration weekend. Enjoy!