Friday evening marked the end of Cowes week 2015, and one of the best places to view the Cowes fireworks on the mainland is Calshot beach. It is a very popular spot – with people coming early, BBQ’s cooking, fires lit and the car park full, but it is a great spot to sit on the beach, enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy the fireworks.
I have taken firework photos before, but I reminded my self of my settings before I headed out, so that I was certain I could get a shot, and at the same time not miss the fireworks by only observing them through my lens.
- Tripod and shutter remote
- Zoom lens as fireworks were a long was away
- Bulb mode, ISO 100, and a mid range aperture
- Glow sticks to fix onto my tripod legs so folks could see it from afar
- Warm clothes, a flask, torch and something to do whilst I wait ….
One thing that became really apparent when I went to edit the photos was how much the light changed. Above you can see the people on the beach as the sun begins to set, then below the sky turns pink as I look out across the water as the sun starts to set.
25 minutes later and I took almost the same image – yet the light has completely changed. It is now the blue hour – the hour after sunset – and you can really see the difference tonight in the colour cast.
The real reason I was here was to enjoy the fireworks. i find bulb mode works best for me as I can open the shutter with the remote trigger and hold it open till I think I have collected enough light of my sensor – It is a guessing game as you never know where the fireworks will be exactly, how bright or how long they will last, but that is part of the fun … then you get to go home and see whether you got any amazing shots.
Composition wise – I tried to make sure I had a straight horizon when I started – it was going to be obvious as there is a line of lights where Cowes on the Isle of Wight meets the shore. I wanted to get the fireworks on a third for a stronger composition, I wanted plenty of negative space around them so I could get a sense of scale as well as any reflections in the water, and I wanted the ability afterwards to crop into different formats – landscape and portrait, so needed to allow myself enough space to do this. I also wanted to balance the picture, enjoy the patterns of the fireworks and of course enjoy the show too … sometimes there is more than just taking photos!
After the show the atmosphere on the beach was amazing, although I was too far away to enjoy the explosive noise of the fireworks, I had chosen a wonderful spot on the beach and enjoyed the warmth of a beach fire and a gentleman playing an accordion.
Part of the fun of firework photography is coming home and seeing the photos that you have capture. The display was fantastic, but the fireworks only went off in a tiny area… so with the help of layer adjustments in Lightroom – the photo below shows what I imagine the fireworks should have looked like. I really think they should have spread them out a little more 🙂