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  1. #1

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    Fireworks photography-- Canon A1 and tungsten vs daylight film questions

    Hi everyone--

    Please forgive me if I've posted this under the wrong category-- I could see how it would fit into both camera and film, so I figured this would be okay.

    Tomorrow night, I have a chance to photograph fireworks for the first time at a local baseball game.

    I've read a *lot* about doing this and I feel confident enough to try it, even though I know I most likely won't get it 100% correct if I do go through with it. Although I do have a nice digital camera, I'd prefer to use analog film for this. I'm interested in what ya'll think about the following:

    1) My Canon A-1 for this job. I do not believe it has a mirror lock up feature. Will this be a significant enough issue to preclude me from using this camera? If it will certainly blur the photographs, there's no point in me even trying to use the camera. There's a chance the F-1 I found may arrive today, but even if it does and if it has the mirror lock up, there is an issue with the metering/battery that makes one have to set the iso 1-2 stops higher to compensate (GRRRRRR!) which might complicate this process for me. But that's a subject for a different thread...

    2) Film choice and/or use of filter. I have the choice of several different types-- Ektachrome 100VS, Ektachrome 100G, Ektar, Velvia 50, Ektachrome 64T, and regular Kodak 200 speed. I've read that some people prefer to use Tungsten balanced film for fireworks and I wonder if I should use that or daylight film, -or- if I should use a daylight-to-tungsten filter with the daylight film?

    3) Are there any tips/tricks/words of advice you all might give me in order to have a greater chance at getting decent images?

    Thank you all in advance!

    John

  2. #2

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    Your film choice sounds alright, my advice would be f/8, focus to infinity, shutter set to bulb, tripod, and a shutter cable. That is what works for me, I have to admit getting the tip from a digital shooter, and having tested it with a DSLR before doing it with film, but that is what works for me, I have even done some shots hand held that way and got good results.

    And yes, slide film is the best way to photograph fireworks, and they show best projected.

    Good luck, you may miss a lot of shots, but the ones that do come out will make it worth all the bad ones.
    "Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
    "Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"

    Me

  3. #3
    donkee's Avatar
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    It has been a while since I photographed fireworks, so I am going by memory.

    I used Ektachrome 100. Set the camera on the bulb setting and close the lens down to f16.

    Attach your cable release and keep the shutter open till you catch a burst or two or more. I would let a couple bursts go off while I composed so that I would have more centered shots.

    Don't worry about mirror lockup, not necessary. Also, daylight film works great.

    I have only recently picked up the cameras after 17 years, but this should be just about right.

  4. #4
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Mirror lock-up is not necessary. However, a good tripod or some other steady support is. A remote release helps. I always used daylight color film with no filter (or B&W) for fireworks. For Kodachrome (alas, gone but not forgotten) I set the aperture to the square root of the ISO and left the shutter open long enough to capture one or many bursts. For negative color film, one stop wider aperture might be better, and even more for B&W. The maximim time of the exposure is limited by the ambient skylight. Try to avoid bright stationary lights in the frame. Automatic exposure is useless for fireworks. There is much information on photographing fireworks online. Some of it is good, some not. If you have a way of solidly supporting both the A-1 and your digital camera, try both. The first digital exposures can guide you in getting the most of your film. Some digital cameras are practical for time exposures. Others may exhaust the battery fairly quickly in this use. The camera manual or online sites can guide you in this.

    (edit) I agree with bblhed and donkee, who posted during my slow typing. Don't worry too much about pricise exposure. It isn't critical in capturing fireworks.

  5. #5
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Kodak's advice in the attached.

    I've found that I prefer to use a rangefinder, as you can then watch the bursts build up within the framelines during the exposure, and know when you've "had enough" bursts to fill the frame, and how the composition is going to look. But that's general advice for those who hadn't considered it before, and an SLR will serve just fine. It's still good to know where your frame is for the same kind of process with an SLR.

    Lee L
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  6. #6

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    WONDERFUL information. Thank you! I'm reading so much online that I'm not sure what to go by.

    I do not have a cable release for the A-1, so I may be stuck with the "carboard in front of the lens" method, which is what may make or break my decision to try this.

    I will *definitely* stick with slide film then, most likely either the Ektachrome 64T or Ektachrome 100VS. I'm leaning toward the 100VS just because I've used it before and I've never shot the 64T.

    The comment about Kodachrome and ISO was *very* interesting. Does setting the f-stop to the square root of the film's ISO hold as a guide to all film when shotting fireworks or was that specific to Kodachrome only?

    John

  7. #7
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    If you're doing several time exposures with a Canon A1 as I suspect you are please ensure you have a spare battery at hand, because they use a lot of power to hold the shutter magnets open for long periods.
    Ben

  8. #8

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    Regarding the lack of mirror lock-up: try to anticipate the explosion, open the shutter (with a cable release) when it is still dark.

  9. #9
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    You might want to try some multi exposures .
    I'm sure that was mentioned somewhere in your research.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by brucemuir View Post
    You might want to try some multi exposures .
    I'm sure that was mentioned somewhere in your research.
    It was indeed mentioned. Truthfully, I've never tried multiple exposures before and I'm not very well versed on how exactly to calculate how many exposures of a given exposure time, aperture value, and ISO are permissible per frame. If I can get the math figured out and work through it tomorrow, that might prove a viable alternative to the cardboard method.

    Thanks for the idea!

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