Vancouver August 11, 1999: Symphony of Fire
Every summer Vancouver hosts the Benson & Hedges 'Symphony of Fire', an international fireworks competition. Representatives from three different countries put on a 25 minute firework display synchronized to music each night. The competitors this year were Canada, France and Spain held on four nights between July 31, 1999 and August 11, 1999 over English Bay. Over a quarter of a million people come annually to surrounding parks and beaches to view this event. Vancouver Tourist has a time-lapse video of this event.
Taking pictures of fireworks requires a bit more equipment
than a usual photo. A regular exposure at 1/125 of
a second will result in a disappointing photo of a few colored
dots. A longer exposure will produce colored trails in the photo.
Long exposures (fireworks need half a second to several seconds)
require a tripod and a cable release to ensure a sharp picture.
Using a zoom allows precise framing of the fireworks in your photo.
Start shooting when things get busy, the brighter the display the
shorter the exposure you should use. Experiment! While print film
has the advantage here because a guesstimated exposure won't be
perfect, slide film can give excellent results as well.
Editing pictures of fireworks is very different from normal pictures. Nearly all changes can be done in your editors equivalent of Picture Publisher's Tone Balance dialog (sometimes called Tone Map). Only adjust input values, output is generally for printing and other special purpose needs. Set the maximum shadow so that the sky turns completely black. Reduce the minimum highlight to brighten the streaks of light, but don't go too far or you will start to lose detail in your image. Adjust the midtone to increase the color saturation as needed. Crop as desired and you are done.
Equipment used in this collection included a Pentax Spotmatic SP II SLR with 39-80mm zoom, tripod, cable release, and Kodak Gold 100 35mm film. Scanned with HP PhotoSmart.
DPR © 1999-2000 by Peter Jones