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Rainy Rainbow Explosion | by Cool HDR (Chris Pokorny)
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Rainy Rainbow Explosion



Stop! If you haven't already, please click on the "LARGE View" - Flickr just doesn't do this photograph justice.


This may be one of my favorite photos that I've captured to date. I love the colors and the composition.


When I go shooting at night I look for bright colors and reflections. It can really be challenging to find color especially when you are trying to compose a shot with a prominently featured subject..


This photo was taken with one of Trey Ratcliff's very famous firework photographs (the first HDR to hang in the Smithsonian) in mind. You can view his here.


A friend and I arrived downtown around 8:30 PM with the fireworks scheduled to begin at 10 PM. We parked and scouted out an area, not quite sure where the barge that would launch the fireworks would be located. My friend guessed it would probably be behind the bridge with the fireworks hitting in the sky exactly where they eventually did.


There were many photographers lined up directly in front of where the barge would be but I felt it would be better to get a different perspective. I have shot the waterfront a couple of times and had an idea that the location pictured above might provide a better vantage point.


By this time we had about an hour before the show was to begin so we decided to climb down to the riverbank and see if being close to the water might provide a better view. I have seen many photographers take photographs (when the water is lower) from the pilings pictured on the right side of the riverbank. After taking a couple of shots from the water's edge we decided to venture to a slightly higher vantage point.


Next was my decision about what lens to use. Initially, I had on my 24-105 mm but not knowing exactly what to expect (since this was my first time shooting fireworks) I opted to use my 16-35 mm to give me a little more wiggle room.


I decided that I probably would want about 2 seconds for each exposure so I metered the scene in AV mode and then set the camera to manual. I knew that when the fireworks started there would be a little more light and I wanted to capture as much brightness without blowing out the explosions.


Once the fireworks started I took single exposures between 2-6 seconds, adjusting the f/stop between f/4 and f/11. I shot at around an ISO of 400 and just based each shot a bit on the previous one. The trick was I wanted the time to be long enough to capture a nice explosion and thus had to adjust the f/stop to brighten or darken the scene depending on the amount of light from the explosions.


The show lasted for about 22 minutes but it felt like 2 minutes.


I had a lot of fun and am really looking forward to the 4th of July fireworks show.


On a technical note this is a one shot HDR comprised of 9 exposures in 1 EV steps from -4 to +4. There was much more noise in this shot than in my other HDR's partly because it was shot at ISO 400 and partly because I used 9 shots from a single exposure.




Note: I sent Trey Ratcliff a message and he gave me some advice about how to take the shot, unfortunately I got his message about 8 minutes after the fireworks ended. However, it was incredibly courteous of him to respond so quickly. I only found out about the fireworks at 5 PM and I only gave about an hour to get me the information... next time I'll have to plan that better.


Follow on Twitter: @CoolHDR


This image was submitted for the Image Wizards and OpenCamp Vibrant Photo contest!


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Taken on May 28, 2010