REMEMBER, remember...

the Fifth of November...

Americans have their 4th of July, while in the UK there's Remembrance day - otherwise known as Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night. In other words - excuses for setting off a dazzling spectacle of fire, sound and fury.

Pretty much every big park in London has its own show and thousands of people show up to watch the night's sky light up. Victoria park is only a few minutes walk from where I live, so I decided to take the opportunity and try to create something cool out of it.

Apart from New Year's Eve I rarely go out to shoot fireworks, but it's a really fun challenge each time, and I'm actually quite happy with the results. Here are some of my favourites:

Taking pictures of fireworks isn't technically one of the hardest things to shoot, but the challenge comes from putting the show in context of where and why it's happening. Pretty eplosions in the sky become boring quickly if there's nothing else in the frame. In this case, I knew I wanted to get the very recognisable monument thingy as a silhouette with the display behind, because if you've ever been to Victoria park it's likely you'll recognise it. In practical terms that was much more difficult than it seems because of all the people, but a crowd always makes for a good foreground subject, and in some shots that worked really well too.

 

By far my favourite shot of the night is, of course, the very last image I took:

Yes, yes... I know... Again with the black-and-white fireworks...

I really love this image for a couple of reasons. To me - this is the perfect shot of firework flowers. Look at them. They're just... perfectly symmetrical and exactly in the right shapes to make a nice little bouquet. I love it. Also, they're juuust off-centre to the left of the landmark roof, while the human silhouettes on the right and the little starbursts (the smallest one of which is the moon btw) balance the whole composition.

That's why I processed it in black-and-white. There wasn't much colour to begin with, but I wanted to emphasize that shape dynamic without any other distractions.

 

For those of you that are interested in the technical side, this was a single 10 second exposure at f/16 and ISO 50 on my Nikon D750 with the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VR lens. Throughout the half an hour of the show I was riding those settings, mainly varying the shutter speed, depending on the kind and amount of fireworks that were going off at any given moment. I experimented going as quickly as 2s for some and as slowly as 20s for others to see what I can get.

 

I also had the GoPro on a gorillapod wrapped around the main tripod to record video of the show, and I brought out my old D7000 with the Samyang 8mm fisheye lens in case I ended up being closer to the display than expected. I made the mistake of not taking my telephoto lens. I should have taken it instead of the fisheye to make sure I can get a couple of decent photos of the UFO on the crane, which had a person hanging off it but I was too far and didn't know what to expect with it. So I failed in that regard.


Nonetheless, I set out to enjoy some fireworks and really to get 1 good shot, and I think I did. I'm really digging the black-and-white, although I know some of you will hate me for it, but to compensate I think a couple of the other images are really solid winners too.

If you're still reading, thank you! and as a small bonus, finally, if you're interested to experiment a little more with taking pictures of fireworks, here are some tips that might help you out:

  1. Scout the location and show setup ahead of time;
  2. Bring along more options for different focal lenghts of lenses;
  3. Sturdy tripod is a must.
  4. Dress warmly and get your spot early to set up;
  5. Don't forget to actually enjoy the show! ;)