Sunday, July 29, 2012

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Fireworks! 2012 Celebration of Light: Vietnam



On Saturday, I was out shooting the fireworks from Burrard Bridge once again. Vietnam was the featured country and it was a great show, lots of colour, not much smoke and clear skies.

Gallery: 2012 Fireworks - Vietnam

One thing you might notice, if you've ever photographed fireworks before, is how nicely highlight colour is held in these shots. Bright fireworks streamers still have strong colour and are not just blown-out to white. In addition, even on the above small photo, you'll find lots of detail on the beach, seeing all the people standing there, plus there is still even some blue sky showing. This was at 10:21pm, near the end of the show. Visually, it was getting pretty darn dark but the above photo is showing tremendous dynamic range. You'll probably notice that throughout the rest of the image gallery as well.

What's the secret? Shooting raw with a Nikon D800, stopping down the camera enough to maintain good fireworks colour and then applying a dramatic shadow-fill in Adobe Lightroom 4. Well, that and a few other Lightroom 4 adjustments as well. All in all, I would judge these fireworks shots to be the best ones, technically at least, that I have personally ever managed to capture.

So why did I borrow a D800 and not shoot the fireworks with my Canon EOS-7D or Panasonic GH2?

Well... umm... I didn't exactly borrow the D800. It's mine, along with a bunch of Nikon's best new 'G' series lenses. Coming soon will be a post titled "D800: The Big Switch" explaining the situation. Yep, you figured it right. I have switched from a Canon DSLR system to Nikon.

This blog has been quiet again for a while and one of the reasons was lots and lots of camera comparisons, lens testing and pondering of my current and future gear. I came within a hair's breadth of ordering a Canon 5D Mark III but in the end, the image quality of Nikon's D800 won out. Anyway, more details to follow in the above named posting. In the meantime, here is one good example of why I switched...

The sky was still fairly bright out when I shot the second image in the gallery at 9:45pm, one of the "teaser bursts" they do before the main show at 10:00pm. I exposed it to keep the sky just shy of blowing out, but on the back of the camera the city was practically a silhouette, similar to how the raw shot looked after I opened it in Lightroom. For those interested, it was shot with Nikon's AF-S 35mm f/1.4G lens at f/11, 13 seconds at ISO 100. Here it is, with default settings and no exposure adjustments exported from Lightroom 4...




I pretty much figured it was a throwaway when I saw it on the back of the camera. There was even less detail on the lower right of the image than is visible here! However after only a couple of minutes in Lighroom, I was able to pull this out of the shot which is the version I have in the gallery of course...



That level of clean dynamic range, especially in the shadows, is mind-blowing to me, and ultimately is one of the key reasons why I decided to make the expensive switch to a D800 and a whole new Nikon lens system. With the D800, it seems one can get near "HDR" levels of dynamic range from a single low-ISO raw file.

I'm sold. Well, obviously...

3 comments:

dude163 said...

wow , your shots of the fireworks ae fantastic!

city said...

thanks for sharing.

Jenifer Nguyen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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