Today, I want to share probably my favourite fireworks shot, but it's one that a lot of people criticize me for. Because, as you must have already noticed, it's in black and white.
I really like this image for a couple of reasons - I think the fireworks fill the upper 2/3rds of the frame nicely, with the main focus oviously being put on them, but I also wanted to keep the people in the frame to give the whole image some context and sense of scale. For me, they also frame the lower part of the image in a way that draws you into the scene. It's not too hard to take pictures of fireworks in the sky, but they are all too similar and fall flat, because they lack a sense of location (like my fireworks image from this new year's eve) or some sense of story - like in this case.
Some backstory about this photograph: it was Guy Fawkes night in the UK and I was at Chigwell school (which is in far north-east London, towards Epping forest), which turned out to be a great opportunity to take photos of fireworks, becuase there's simply a lot of them on that particular celebration. I was relatively unaware of the whole thing at the time, but I quickly realised that I couldn't miss this chance. But, of course, that wasn't without its problems and challenges. For example, I hadn't brought my tripod to the boarding school, because of luggage constraints. And for anyone who has no idea how fireworks are photographed, let me tell you, a tripod is essential because you're shooting at a very slow shutter speed. In the end, I managed to find a small, kind of broken one from one of the classrooms, but it did the job of holding up my camera just barely well enough so that I could get a couple of sharp images, with decent firework explosions going off.
My decision to go black & white, when editing this one, but generally when editing, is all based on feel. I know that's very arbitrary, and everyone has their preference, but for me, there were too many little distracting elements in a fully edited colour version. Converting it to black and white, and sticking to my film-esque style of processing, changes the tone of the image, not just in a literally, but also in what they convey.
And just for reference, here is what the image looked like as a RAW file straight out of the camera, with no corrections done to it whatsoever.