Sunday, July 12, 2009

Photographing Laser Light

My attempt at a technique taught by Dean Collins for photographing beams of light.

Light itself is invisible. Think of your car headlights. You don't see the light coming out of the headlights, but rather the areas where it hits.

To photograph it, you make the light beam visible by making it "hit" something in all the areas you want it to show up in your photograph. Pretty simple concept and pretty simple to do.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Photographing Fireworks

Every year around the 4th of July and New Year's Day, there are several people asking for advice on how to photograph the upcoming fireworks. It seems that the questions are almost always the same, just new people asking them.

I'll share my technique and offer some tips. If you're a seasoned photographer, then most, if not all, will be redundant. Other people should hopefully find this useful.

In some ways, this article is late by a couple of days; being written on July 5th. Or you can see the glass as half-full, and realize that you now have many months to get ready :-)

Quick Guide
  • Set your camera to ISO: 100, Aperture: f/11, Shutter Speed: Bulb
  • Turn off Long Exposure NR (on my camera, it doubles the time for an exposure - essentially forcing a break between photographs)
  • Put the camera on a tripod, with remote release cable attached
  • Set the zoom on your lens to cover the desired area
  • Set your lens to manual focus, and focus on infinity
The Photographs
The Fireworks
As the fireworks go off, anticipate the bursts and shoot away. Take as many photographs as you can. You may end up throwing away a bunch of them.

You can usually see the rocket go up before it explodes. Press the shutter as it's going up and keep it pressed till the sparks fall off.

The longer you keep the shutter pressed, the more fireworks you'll capture in that photograph.

Beyond that it's practice. Anticipating the bursts, capturing cool shapes, keeping the photos from being too busy, etc. comes from experience. The more you shoot, the better you'll get.