David Halgrimson, APSA  

Celebration by David Halgrimson, APSA

August 2022 - Celebration

August 2022 - David Halgrimson, APSA


About the Image(s)

I missed the fireworks Saturday night July 2nd, and hemmed and hawed all day Monday July 4th, America’s Independence Day. I wanted to shoot some fireworks, but was not sure where to go, or if I really wanted to. I did and then I didn’t, then again… Finally, around 8:30pm I searched the web for fireworks near me and found Coon Rapids, MN would be displaying them at 10:00pm. The people would be many, the traffic heavy, and do I really want to go through all that?

At 9:00pm I decided, yup, I am going. Loaded the car with tripod and camera bag and off I went. No issue getting to the venue until looking for parking—oh my, the parking lot was full and people were everywhere. Not sure why, but a block away on the main boulevard, there was a parking spot right there.

I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and headed to where the people were gathering. Not sure what direction the fireworks would be, I looked around and the people were all facing one direction—aha! There were large trees not far away and I thought the fireworks were going to be on the other side and hoped they would be high enough for some good shots. Looking for perhaps a better vantage point, I found an open parking lot with a few onlookers, but still with trees beyond. I set up my tripod and mounted a 40-150mm lens on my camera, because the fireworks were going to be some distance away.

It was now about 9:45pm, so I waited. 10:00pm, bang, boom, bam—they were right there, right there in front of me. I tried to get a shot, 40mm, way too much lens. Changed the lens to 12-40mm, and back in business.

The fireworks were non-stop for 30-40 minutes, no time to mess with settings and fortunately did not have to. I used a feature of the Olympus EM1 MKII called Live Composite—it starts by taking an initial image, then taking additional images and only adding new light from the additional images. In the case of fireworks, it takes the initial image of the first explosion, then each additional image it adds any new light from new explosions. If no new light/explosion, no light is added to the image. I can watch the monitor as it builds the image, and when I like what I see, I stop it and start a new one. I ended up with multiple explosions in each image.

Camera settings were 1 or 1.6 second shutter, and I usually waited 4-6 seconds before stopping and starting again, so each image was a composite of 4 to 6 explosions. Other settings were ISO 64 and aperture f/3.5 or f/6.3.

Processed in LR, tasing exposure, lowering highlights, raising whites, lowering blacks, adding texture and clarity.

Converted to B&W in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Forgot to add a boarder.

4 comments posted

Vincent Cochain   Vincent Cochain
A really (good) adventure these pictures of fireworks. It was worth going there...
Your camera has really special option and effects. A pleasure when wel mastered.
I really appreciate the composition and the different lights. The explosions are sharped and within a logical composition (a line, small and big ones).
Good job. I never succeeded to take good fireworks pictures.
No problem for the border it can happen (always each time for me...).
  Posted: 08/02/2022 03:37:19

Kathryn Delany
David, I understand you debating going to the event. Glad you did. I like the composition with the strong diagonal leading the eye upward to the main action. This is well exposed and translating into b&w works. The bursts look like dandelion flowers, lovely crisp details. Looks like a well done floral design! What a great feature to have on your camera as well   Posted: 08/02/2022 18:16:51

Paul Hoffman   Paul Hoffman
I am so glad you did go as we would not have seen this. Spectacular lines to the image dominated by the bright white line from the foot that holds the whole image together. Then to the small flurry until you hit the large explosions. You could not have asked for it all to fall into place for you. The tones and contrast on the black a white are impressive.
But oh my the colour version just explodes in your face with a riot of colour. It is a stunning firework image and should be printed large on metal to give you the feel of metallic. it would look fantastic.   Posted: 08/10/2022 05:21:25

Fran Yates   Fran Yates
What a great idea of using Live Composite for fireworks. I will have to try that next year (I also have a Mark II). Also, it was creative to convert to B & W. It shows the Contrast so well. Good job!   Posted: 08/13/2022 12:42:08


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