Blackheath Fireworks 2010 Blackheath Fireworks 2010

Blackheath Fireworks 2010

Once again, I went with some of the other locals to Blackheath for the annual Guy Fawkes fireworks display. There was one huge advantage this year over last, having learned from the disaster which is taking a bus to Blackheath at such a popular time, we took the train and walked up the hill. Despite the ten kilos of camera equipment I was lugging along in my giant rucksack, it was a fairly easy walk. We were there early, allowing time for a quick beer and for those lucky few who didn't have a bag the size of a small child to do a ride or two at the fair. From there we wandered into the main viewing area, and managed to get extremely close to the fence. I setup my camera on the tripod and immediately found that I'd forgotten my camera release. Disappointing as that greatly reduces camera shake from pressing the button. I also found I missed the Sony's flip out screen, which made viewing the fireworks a lot easier than the fixed screen on the 1D. However, the 1D's ability to do a ten times zoom on the screen made the manual focusing on the fireworks a breeze.

I'd setup with my 24-105 lens and after the first shot realized we were MUCH closed than before. The bursts were above us and covered the sky. I swapped to my 17-40, missing some explosions and a few chances to ‘oooh' and ‘aaaah' but found the lens on full 17mm a much more effective choice.

Half an hour went by very quickly, and I managed to get a decent few images.

My top five tips for shooting fireworks effectively.

  • Tripod: You can't take a good firework shot without one. The second or two you need the shutter open will blur the image completely if its not steady
  • Trigger Release: You can do it without, I did this year after all, but you will end up seeing less of the fireworks because you are focusing on carefully pressing the button!.
  • Manual Focus: In the time it takes for the camera to autofocus, the moment will be lost. Accept the first couple of explosions are tests you will use to get your focus right. Focus. Review the image in as close a zoom as you can, and adjust if needed. Better to miss the whole first half and find the perfect spot than to rush the focus and finish with a lot of photos, but blurry ones!
  • Location, location, location: Think about where you are and where the fireworks will explode. 9 times out of 10, the explosions will be in exactly the same spot, so once you've focused and aimed, its just about pressing the button, you don't even need to look at the camera. But remember, if you are near the front, you need the widest angle lens you have, if you are much further back, you might even want to use a zoom!
  • Enjoy it! Don't forget you are there to watch fireworks, don't spent the whole time staring at the screen of a little camera when above a beautiful display is going off!