Fireworks Failure

Having just passed through the Canadian and American holiday's, fireworks are of course a big draw for the budding photographer. It was no different in our home town of Calgary where the community had just survived the worst flood of the last 80 years. Due to this, much of our river park system was blocked off as banks were eroding and rubble lined what was once our primary viewing ground. Despite these challenges the show went on and thousands were out to watch. The fireworks this year were shot off the Centre Street Bridge (built in 1916) over the Bow River that had wreaked such havoc over the previous weeks.

I was keen on grabbing a classic fireworks shot worthy of my desktop background or even a frame. I had researched tips on how to achieve the classic shot and hoped to use this knowledge to increase my odds of success.  

When I arrived on site I found that the destruction left no desirable foreground to speak of, the pathway was lined with construction fencing and there was limited space to set-up. Even with this challenge I managed to frame a shot I felt would encompass all that was to be coming.

Shooting the A900 with a corded trigger in mirror up mode I initially shot the Minolta 24mm F/2.8 then transitioned to the Tamron 18-270mm. The fireworks came fast and furious and I felt from viewing my LCD post shot that all was going splendidly, unfortunately when I returned to process the photo's that was not the case.

What went right

  • I framed the shots as expected and was able to capture all the fireworks throughout the show. 

 What went wrong

  • The show itself was not choreographed well for photography - lots of tight bursts rapidly in confined area.
  • The lack of foreground left only the fireworks at centre stage. 
  • All of the shots looked out of focus and blurred. 
  • Long exposure shots were not successful at capturing desired affects due the shallow depth of field

What I would do different

  • I was targeting the lowest ISO possible and long exposure shots. In the rush I unfortunately didn't think of the impact of shooting wide open. My results would have been far better if I was shooting at the F/8 - F/11 range allowing for that greater depth of field.  
  • I wouldn't switch lenses mid shoot, because of duration and speed of show not enough attention was paid to proper focus and framing of shot. 
  • Encourage my community not to flood prior to a scheduled shoot.