Rose Bowl Smoke and Fireworks Spectacular

Last night's Rose Bowl fireworks were amazing but smoky. Many times I said to myself, "Boy I'll bet there are some fantastic fireworks going off inside that cloud of smoke." But other times I think the illumination of the smoke created a nice effect, and here's a photograph of one of those times.


Technical Notes:


Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-105mm @ 26mm, f/18, ISO Lo 0.3 (which is about the same as ISO 170).


The smoke and firework burst is from a 5.3 sec bulbed exposure. Let's call this image A.


To get some detail from the Rose Bowl, I combined 9 separate bulbed exposures from 3.5 to 60 seconds (total of 188 sec) taken about 9 minutes earlier, right after the stadium lights had gone off but before the fireworks had started. I combined these using software that I wrote to produce an OpenEXR image, then in Photoshop I converted to a 16-bit TIFF, but only by adjusting the exposure and gamma settings. This produced image B.


I gradient masked image B so that only the bottom portion (with the stadium and some of the background lights) is used, set the layer opacity of B to 37% and used the "Lighter Color" mode to blend with image A. So about 75% of this image (the top portion) is in fact straight out of the camera.


Is this an HDR? If "HDR" means combining multiple exposures to get more information than you could get from a single exposure, then yes. If "HDR" means tonemapping via an algorithm that locally adjusts the contrast (like Photomatix), then no. But I'm curious to hear your opinion.

  • Jim Nix 5y

    cool shot!!
  • Richard Alexander 5y

    Beautiful shot! I'd like to think that I could shoot something like that, but when I hear photographers say something like, "I combined these using software that I wrote," I feel a bit intimidated.

    I don't believe that tone mapping is the same thing as HDR, though tone mapping is useful for displaying an HDR image that exceeds the dynamic range of the display media. Photomatix can do both.
  • Scallop Holden 5y

    cool shot
  • twhitcomb 5y

    very cool!
  • Diane Trimble --- dianemariet 5y

    Beautiful shot .... the colors are amazing. Way over my head! I just aim, shoot and hope for the best. ;)
  • Karol Franks 5y

    I love the color!
    Thanks for sharing your shot!
    From the I Love LA Group
  • Nancy 5y

    Wow! Well whatever you want to call it, you've combined the best of both and certainly put in some effort to achieve this stunning firework image.
    Amazing stuff!!
  • keepurheadup36 5y

    Now thats a great picture,GREAT job!!!
  • kathy koch 5y

    Whoa ~ what an *awesome* effect ! ! ! Beautifully captured.
  • Alex Lloyd 5y

    Amazing capture
  • 2bamazed 5y

    You had a great point of action.. Awesome image..
  • Almost* 5y

    what an interesting effect
  • Gerggl 5y

    very cool!
  • Shoeven 5y

    love the smoke
7 faves
Taken on July 4, 2010
  • 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
  • ƒ/18.0
  • 26.0 mm
  • 5.4
  • 160
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
  • Show EXIF
This photo is in 10 groups
This photo is in 2 albums

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