4th of July Fireworks

I finally got a chance to spend some time at the computer today and decided to work with some of my fireworks photos from July 4th.  I knew when I took the photos that I would be making some composites in Photoshop.  These were all taken handheld with the 5D Mark III and the 40MM 2.8 pancake lens, f4 at ISO 3200. My shutter speeds ranged from 1/5 to 1/50 of a second.

All the photos had some initial processing in Lightroom, including a little sharpening and noise reduction, then were composited in Photoshop.  Once I brought the composited file back into Lightroom I added a little more punch in contrast, vibrance and saturation.

There’s no question that these are more than a bit over-the-top from the standpoint of reality, but that’s what artistic license is all about.  This is what I saw and this is what I felt, so here it is!

This was the first time I had used Photoshop on any 5D Mark III files, and I must say that I seriously challenged the capabilities of my 5 year old iMac.  Each file is around 1 GB, and I had some serious beachball action (it’s a Mac thing) going from time to time.  If I do much more of that I’m going to need to look at upgrading the computer hardware a little sooner than I planned.

10 thoughts on “4th of July Fireworks”

  1. Bravo! You do good work and have a keen eye. Looks like that may be one of your favorite lens. I’m at the 4 year mark on my Macbook and looking into upgrading, also. It seems 4-5 years about where changes need made.

    1. Thanks, Monte. I’m liking the prime lens even more than I thought I would. It’s a little wide for what I usually shoot but I’m learning to “zoom with my feet.” 🙂

      It turns out that part – and maybe a lot – of my problem may be a sluggish hard drive. I swapped out my main drive with my backup and it seemed to speed up tremendously. My current drives have a lot of miles on them and are almost full, so that may just accelerate my purchase a little. And in the mean time I’ll back up a little more frequently. 🙂

  2. Great composite work! I would never have guess if you hadn’t mentioned it. I like the idea of upgrading equipment if it’s feasible and the upgrade does what you need it to do. I also understand that’s not possible and then you have to bite the bullet and start shopping around.

    1. Thanks, Ken. I wondered about whether or not to mention the compositing, but figured if I didn’t that someone would ask. Although I was probably more concerned about someone thinking I hadn’t used Photoshop when I had! I’m a little bit out of practice so it was good to exercise the “Photoshop chops.”

  3. Bravo, Tom! Those are some cool composites. I wouldn’t have guessed at all that they were. Also, wouldn’t have guessed that you could get so many fireworks handheld at 1/5 to 1/50, but I guess that’s where the compositing came in. 🙂

    1. Paul, what I found was that shooting the fireworks themselves was a lot like shooting with flash, so there was very little issue with the slower shutter speeds. The key was getting enough bursts just at the right point where they have plenty of color but don’t blow out. Keeping the foreground sharp wasn’t too hard because I just had to pick the best frame out of each group! And I took over 400 shots, so it wasn’t too hard to come up with the raw materials.

  4. Very nice. I read the comments first and had to go back and read your post when I saw “composite”. Really?
    Looks great.

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