Tuesday, July 7, 2015

4th of July in Los Angeles

Fireworks over Los Angeles, 4th of July

Here is one from the 4th. The goal with fireworks is to capture a nice set of bursts in a frame. To do this you don't want your shutter speed too short since you want to capture it from when it ignites all the way to the burst to get that nice trail, but you don't want it too long where you get multiple bursts in the same spot as it can look cluttered and can end up being too bright. It totally depends on the show but somewhere between 10-20 seconds usually works. The problem with capturing a single set of bursts is that you don't get the grand scale of the show, so an easy technique you can use is the "lighten" blend mode in photoshop. To make this work ensure your exposure is the same for each shot you take. Then during the show, fire off multiple shots capturing the bursts. When you review your images pick out a few that have nice sets of bursts scattered in the sky and not directly on top of each other. You then layer your photos on each other and change the blend mode on each layer from "normal" to "lighten". What this does is takes the color information from each pixel of the base and compares it to that chosen layer and applies the lighter color. You do this with every layer and all of your fireworks that you selected are now on your base image.

 The shot you see here is from Ascot Hills on the east side of LA. The city was already super hazy from the from all the pre-firework celebrations and I wanted to capture the essence of how many were actually being set off by the residence. I chose a 20 sec exposure as the fireworks were more scattered than you would get in an actual show so there weren't many overlapping in the same exact spot. Once blue hour hit I fired off multiple exposures until it faded. Once I got home I selected 8 images and used the technique above to get the image you see here.

If you are still with me, I hope you learned something. If you use a different technique, I would love to hear about it as well. 8 images stacked using the Nikon D750, Nikkor 70-200 @ 92mm, f/11, 20 sec, ISO-100


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Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography