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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Red White and Boom!

Happy Independence Day (or like the govt is trying to brainwash you...Happy 4th of July). Hope you had a well spent long weekend relaxing with your family. This weekend was my first serious attempt at taking pictures of fireworks (the previous attempts failed as my old camera did not help me a bit).

Bay area lights up the evening of July 4th with a string of fireworks starting all the way up in San Francisco to all the way down in San Jose. Some of the most pretty fireworks are displayed in San Francisco at Pier 39 (though the unpredictable fog most of the times can be a real damper) followed by Redwood City, Great America Parkway, San Jose. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on each location organizing the parade and the fireworks.

This year was a little different. Great America parkway themepark had its fireworks on the nights of Jul 1, 2 and 3rd. I came to know about this on the last day, took my camera hurried to the spot to take pictures. Since it was my first serious attempt, i made a lot of mistakes and ended up getting overexposed pictures. Thankfully, the rest of the bay area had the fireworks on the 4th of July and i got another chance to learn from my mistakes and correct them. For the second day, i chose Milpitas as my location and was genuinely surprised at how nice the fireworks were. Here are some pictures i took of the fireworks.

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To those interested.... Here are some tips on how to shoot fireworks.
Digital Photography School
Photographing Fireworks in California
New York Institute of Photography

Here are some tips based on my experience...
  • Tripod is a must.
  • Cable release or remote is not a must. I did not use one
  • Check weather before you leave. If it is foggy or cloudy, there is nothing much you can do. Dress appropriately, it gets really chilly some places.
  • Park your vehicle a couple of blocks away and be prepared to walk a bit. Expect roadblocks and heavy traffic near the event venue.

Here is how i set my camera (EOS 30D + 28-135mm lens) to shoot the fireworks
  • ISO: 100
  • Focus: Manual Focus (manually focussed on a building nearby and adjusted focus again with the first burst of fireworks)
  • Camera Mode: M (Manual)
  • Aperture: 10-16 (10 gives softer edges. 16 gives really sharp edges.)
  • Shutter Speed: Bulb (I had the shutter open from 3 to 6 seconds max. Experiment with the first few bursts to get an idea)
  • Noise Reduction: Off (Turning it ON makes the camera take approx 5-8 secs to process the image and write to the card. This means you miss many bursts)
  • Focal length: 28-50mm (I cropped the pics later)
  • White balance: Auto
  • Metering mode: Doesnt matter. I chose pattern
  • Image Quality: Large + Superfine (No RAW)
  • Storage medium: Ultra II flash card. Not sure if using a micro drive would have given me faster write times


  1. Beautiful pics, bro ! i like the look of colour against the black background of the night. Good work; what mistakes did you do, by the way ?

  2. Totally BEAUTIFUL!
    I loved those fireworks...
    I didn't get out on the 4th.
    That makes up for it.
    You take amazing pictures!
    Thanks for brightening up
    my day!

  3. Lord boo just shut up ! Night is black, when there is no sun it is called night, when Aamir was taking pictures the sun was in india.

    I was waiting for your firework pictures, terrific job. Amazing pictures Aamir. Never seen such fire work and pictures before, Saw the opening and closing ceremony of the Greek olympics, but that was too much of firework

    There is beauty in man made things too.
    Carrot is nature's gift, just a vegetable. Carrot halwa is a man made delight.

    your page is getting more and more interesting Aamir,

  4. These are fantastic. Don't you love it when the bangs rumble through you? The air is filled with electricity from the explosions to the excitement of the spectators.

  5. thanks boo... it was a very pretty sight. I couldn;t believe my eyes when i came back home and downloaded the pictures. As for my mistakes, the first one was location, i did not anticipate the wind direction, as a result, the smoke was in most of the pictures. Second was timing. Either i released the shutter too quick getting dark incomplete shots or too long to get overexposed shots. Third was the auto noise reduction on the camera, which i had turned on, which took like 5-10 secs between taking picture, writing to the card and getting ready for next shot and a couple more pics. I learnt from these pics and got nice ones the next day.

  6. thank you Margie. Glad my pics made you happy

  7. welcome back frida. The atmosphere was charged up with excitement, oooohs and aahhhs. It was fun, the band kept the tempo going till the fireworks started. I loved it.

  8. rauf, thanks for the compliments. I did a lot of research and trial-and-error on how to fine tune the camera to shoot fireworks.

    I see you often lose your temper with boo recently. Are you upset with her for something? I thought it was an innocent statement she made. Everything okay with you? Take care.

  9. EEEEEEEEEE nosee Ammir me and boo always fight, she's a sweet man

  10. My dogs go crazy and freak out on the 4th of July! they think it's War for real. Love your pictures! :)

  11. Hi! Cool pictures.I got to see them for real --pretty spectacular they are and you have captured them so beautifully.
    But..where are the smiley faces?lol.We had a lot of smiley face fireworks here. Cute they are.:)

  12. rauf, its okay, its between you and her. I thought your comment was a bit harsh.

  13. Kathy.. thanks and welcome back :) I know a lot of people who take their dogs away during fireworks. Hope you had fun filled vacation

  14. e2d...Thanks. Here is a smiley for you --> :-) lol. The milpitas fireworks did not have smilies. The great america ones did, they also had heart shaped ones. Unfortunately, i messed up with those pics. Which fireworks did you see?

  15. Wow Aamir,Wow..
    Amazing fire works!!

  16. heheheh, thanks for standing up for me, bro :D Rauf and i are always fighting like kuttha billis, and we patch up and we fight again; we are the funniest pair yet, we are the best of pals :D

  17. oh and bro, i taught ammi how to check your blog ;) *pats herself on the back*

  18. boo.. im always around.

    You are too late, mom saw my blog last week. ;)

  19. Gangadhar, thanks for the comment. Hope you are feeling better now.

  20. Those did turn out nice. I'll have to make notes for the next time.


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