I never buy fireworks(can't even remember buying any) and I also have a hard time getting motivated to photograph them. I wound up spending $100 on 6 mortar tubes which each had 6 mortars. I then figured I should probably photograph them in some fashion. We took two saw horses, then bungee'd a 2x6 to them and screwed down the mortar tubes. Dad can be seen above with a little torch in hopes to light them faster, as I thought doing one at a time was pretty silly and normal. That's why they were set up like this in the first place, to do 6 at once, so at least it's closer to a real show and something cool.
This shot was actually during a test shot. Wanted to see how bad the ambers to the ground were, before trying to send 6 up at once, potentially lighting the neighborhood on fire.
Go "big" or go home. It's probably a good thing I don't have much money. I'd get carried away if that were the case. The test shot revealed how fast the fuses actually go with these. This changed the 6 at once idea to 3 at once. If we had another torch, could have gone for 6. I couldn't light any as I was messing with the cable release down here. That is also why these are up off the ground, so I could shoot them from low. It was quickly apparent something was moving the tubes. I looked at the second shot of 3 for this and the tubes moved position. Thought maybe the tripod legs got bumped, as they were spread about straight out, with the camera almost on the ground. That or the booms moved the board. We checked it and it seemed too tight for that to be the case. I can now say for certain the booms moved the board or the saw horses, because all my images for the stacks have movement of the other tubes between frames.
Trying to compose the shot sucked bad. Just no good way to look through a viewfinder on a camera that is mounted just off the ground and pointed up....and you can't even see in the dark anyway. No one remembered to bring a light with up on the hill. I'd have my dad try to light it some with his cell phone open, but that did little. This would have been one of those rare times a camera with an articulating LCD would have been great. I'd lay in the dirt and even if I could make out the tubes in the viewfinder, my head was cocked at a 90, so it was hard to tell level.
Essentially straight under the tubes. The blue streaks are the torch lighting things.
I saved a set of mortars to try this with. I knew it could be done but wasn't sure how well. A full moon wouldn't do the sky/stars any favors for this. How one does star trails now is usually via image stacking. Lightning can be done this way too, if you wanted a lot from one scene without one long exposure but using more than one exposure. You take one shot then another. In photoshop you drop them on one another then select "lighten" mode for the blend mode. All that does then is whichever pixel between the images is brightest, it lets that one show for the final image. So if you are doing star trails, then as the star moves between shots, it shows up when you are using that lighten blend mode on the image stack later. So this is the only way you'll ever dream of doing star trails with fireworks. The fireworks shot was several seconds at F18, 100 ISO. Then there are 212 5 second, F3.5, 800 ISO images for the star trails. The ISO is what pulls out more stars. Shutter length doesn't mean much since the stars are moving. But I had to go with short shutters because you have to keep the sky dark on each one. If the sky gets too bright for this, then when you pick lighten mode to show the fireworks, if the sky is brighter then you won't even see the fireworks.
Did this one more time from underneath. That really makes the fireworks look low for some reason. This could be cooler with no moon and further from light pollution.
My friend Randy had asked about the 4th and what I was doing and mentioned the moon. This was the night after the first home fireworks on here. I hadn't thought about the moon op till he mentioned it. Once I started to look into it, I started to realize basically a 1 in a couple decade op was kinda happening. Or even less so for another reason, other than moon phases/rise times landing on town fireworks night. The other thing right now is if you look at satellite loops over the plains, you can see this milky area most everywhere. It clears out further northwest into the mountains of MT. It's smoke from all the wildfires, basically stuck under the heat ridge. This smoke along with heat and humidity right now, has been making the moon very very orange and for a long time after it rises. But anyway, what I started to realize was an epic op would be at hand for the town fireworks. The moon rise was to be 9:39 and fireworks at 10pm. That's damn ideal. Day before or day after and it wouldn't work. I looked up where it was rising and it was around 22 degrees south of due east. I then looked at a google map of town and where the fireworks would be from the hill above Dana College. Just looking at the screen, I could see the line to the fireworks from there was basically if you split the screen in half for 45 degrees, then split that in half again for 22.5 degrees. So the fireworks were also about 22 degrees south of due east(from that hill), right where the moon rise would be. This all about 2 miles from the fireworks. So you could telephoto and have a big orange moon with the show. I walked around up there and there seemed to be plenty of move side to side room, so I never thought I'd have to get any more exact in figuring out where things would be. I knew it was close enough. I was getting stupid excited. I did 1 mile away shots from my parent's roof a previous year and 100mm there would have the whole fireworks just fit. So I knew 200mm from 2x as far would have the same thing. My telephoto is 100-400mm. I thought, good grief what are the odds of all this landing like it is landing. Low, fire orange moon, at the time of fireworks and one of the very few hill ops being lined up with them perfectly...at a perfect distance to telephoto and get the moon big and get the whole fireworks. But it is 2012 and if it can find a way to suck....it will...personally speaking for the storm season(and many others sharing that sentiment).
Some small cloud concerns quickly vanish as it gets darker. Great! Friends and family head to that spot with me. We set up and wait for the moon to rise. It rises so we know where it is exactly. All that is left to figure out is where exactly the fireworks are out there. Plenty of familiar objects out there, but trees blocking any low views to know for sure. Eventually we see a very high firework go up and were rather certain that was them doing one of the early test fires they do. Nothing else was big and high to that degree. So we knew they were lined up with that radio tower out there then. I mean I drew lines on a google map and knew it was in the general direction of Cargil, but Cargil is pretty spread out over there. I originally thought it would be right towards those stacks showing on the left. But that tall one and all these Chinese lanterns going up said it had to be them and they were in line with that tower. We waited and waited. By just after 10 the moon was straight above the tower. I was like, we are so set.
We then see some ground display stuff over to the left more. "That's not them is it?" Was quickly replaced with, "Aww crap." My heart sank a lot. It was like 2012 just stuck a knife in me again and was turning it. I so looked forward to the potential of this op and I don't overly care to shoot fireworks.
So I quickly flipped the camera back to horizontal and backed it back out to 100mm just to see if I could even fit them at that. I could barely, but it seemed sooooooooooooooooo lame compared to what was the plan. It didn't help right then so many were the lower fireworks. I was like, ok this went from excitement to depression fast.
*I moved the moon left for an example in photoshop*
*I moved the moon left for an example in photoshop*
Here is all I did for the above photo as an example. It was a 100mm horizontal shot like the one before with the moon too far right. All I did was move the moon straight left at the same height in this shot then cropped it. That is exactly how things would be lined up if....they were lined up! I thought I had enough fudge room up there to just move on foot and get them lined up. There was if it was off to the left so you had to move right more. I started running left to at least try and find out if I could find anywhere up there to line them up with a clear view. Didn't take long before I ran out of run room that way. So I finally said screw the moon I guess!
I'm at the end of my run left room, shooting vertical through a tree gap over there. The moon not that far right now, but just far enough! Of little consolation is just the fact that it couldn't be done. I feel stupid for not being more precise in lining up the fireworks location with objects on a google map, but I knew basically it would be in line with Cargil. But in the end that doesn't even matter, cause nothing could be done there. Someone's back yard up there would have had the right angle. The above and the ones below would have been pretty crazy looking with that moon in there, but yeah, nooooooooooooooooooooo. I learn to never be sure of anything at this rate. I was sure it would work and there was fudge room. It was just outside of fudge room.
Some seriously un-motivated photography being done during these lol. I stood there so wishing I was at home watching tv or drinking heavily lol. I hate it when something you were sure of doesn't pan out...especially rare crap with so much potential for cool photography. Then the realization kicks with a boom of the first fireworks. "That's not them over there is it?" Greatest moment ever lol. But yeah again, at least there was no fixing it anyway. Short of knocking on the door of whoever's house it worked at...and possibly needing their roof too. I bet the angle from the top of the picnic pavilion up there was close but who knows on trees still.
Big orange moon right in the midst of the show from here, telephoto, would have been somethin. Can't believe I just put another firework photo account on here lol. Least I have deleted the links to some. Hard to keep the fluff down during years like this one lol.