Exposure for fireworks
I am going to do some firework shot tonite. There isn't any good background where the firework is going to be so I will shoot the fireworks only. Last time I use f/8 for ISO 200 color negative film and it seems overexposed. I could print them down but I would like to reduce exposure this time but definitely not underexposure. May f/11? Any thought? It seems the exposure time about 1 to 3 secs is what would capture the pattern I want.
Warning - handwaving ramblings to follow:
Firstly, how are you determining that the negatives are overexposed? - If they are being commercially printed, there is a good chance that they are being automatically brightened up to control for what the machine thinks is your underexposure. You might want to try getting a good quality scan of some of the negatives, and seeing if they really are underexposed, or if it is a printing issue.
My thought is that since the light source is moving, and is against a dark background, the shutter time does not contribute to the exposure, so you are looking at something where the only real contributor to the exposure will be your aperture.
The closer you are to the fireworks, the faster the image of the light source will be moving across your film, and the wider the aperture that you will need for a given exposure - which seems counter-intuitive.
The last time I shot fireworks (granted it was not with 35mm), I was using a 100 ASA transparency film, and I used f16, with relatively long exposures.
I know that the negative was overexposed. I made all the prints myself both using an old Noritsu minilab machine as well as in my own darkroom with conventional enlarger. They are printable but but the exposure time is quite long. In fact the Noritsu machine complained that exposure time for printing was too long. The exposure time has nothing to do with exposure but I determine about 3 seconds or so the firework is in full bloom. Too long exposure time capture too much of the trails when it went down and I didn't like that. I would be doing it in B and close the shutter as soon as as the firework is in full bloom. I will use a lens with focal length and position so that the frame is about filled with 1 burst or 2. So I think I would use f/11 this time.
Last year I shot fireworks with a Koni-Omega and Ilford PanF+. I set the aperture for f/8 and held the shutter open for several seconds up to probably a minute in some cases. Most exposures came out well.
I've always enjoyed fireworks and photographing them! My best results have always been with transparency film as first choice and B&W neg as second choice. With the large areas of darkness, color neg can look muddy particularly if machine printed with no correction.
There is a lot of latitude, and a medium speed film with smaller aperture and a longish exposure, up to several seconds, will capture the spark trails quite easily. Sometimes two of three overlapped exposures on the same frame can produce interesting effects.
I have good luck with f22 and set it on bulb tripod and shutter release cable. Maybe count to 8.. meaning 1 1000, 2 1000.. ect... wait till the show really goes ape, like grand finally. It's sort of a fishing expedition, but your bound to get a few good ones.
400 ISO, F5.6 just short of a second on bulb; If I would have dragged the shutter the background would have lightened up because of background light in suburbia. If your in the boondocks no worries.
Wide angle lens, aim at where you know or have a reasonable idea where the fireworks will appear in the sky. Bulb exposure at mid-aperture (f5.6) 30 seconds to capture several bursts, the longer exposure providing a huge number of 'trails'. ISO 200 to 400 film is good. It does not have to be perfect. Be it noted that the digital examples you see on the web are actually layers: several exposures superimposed, so too those of night skies.
Normal lens, Bulb setting, f:11, cable release. Open the shutter long enough to grab a burst or two, or three, or more then move on to the next frame.
I used to use ektachrome 100, but not anymore!
I really should scan some of my old ones and post them. Always had good results with the above
I'm going to try my pinhole camera with FP-100C in it. I'll probably just leave it open for the whole show and then see what it looks like at the end ... probably a giant color smudge, or headlights of cars driving by...