It’s been many years since I owned an SLR camera – in fact, it’s been at least 28 years… So when I went to buy a camera a couple years ago and didn’t, at that point, have the cash-flow to buy a full on DSLR, I was happy to get a Canon Powershot S3 IS – something a bit more flexible than a fully automatic pocket point & shoot, with the ability to add a polarizing filter or a starlight filter, and manual mode…
Yet because it had been so long and I just couldn’t find the motive to push through the “lazy” method of shooting, it’s now been 3 years since I bought the camera and until this week, hadn’t once taken it into manual mode, let alone made use of the tripod.
Then just this weekend I felt maybe I want to go beyond my comfort zone with this thing and take advantage of the fact that though I love fireworks, last year’s attempt at shooting them using preset factory modes had failed miserable, which means I’ll actually take the time to read the user’s manual and learn how to slow down the shutter, work the f stops, do what I need to so I can come up with that one award winning shot.
This desire was locked when Christa Watson, a friend, industry colleague, and also an avid photographer, posted a challenge on her blog
What if we took this next week to really stop, think, and create a photo, instead of just snapping away? What if you only had ONE chance to take that picture? ONE shot to set up your white balance, color, lighting, and composition. The challenge is to take only one picture for the day. No over processing, no sharpening, just straight out of the camera goodness!
Well, there’s no way I’d go THAT far, because I don’t have a full on DSLR (although a goal this year is to purchase a Digital Rebel … ) yet this was enough to solidify my desire to really put my all into the process for that fireworks shot.
To that end, I sat down tonight and busted out the manual (the digital version of course!) and after what must have been like a half hour of confusing instructions spread out here and there, I finally figured out how to set the ISO (100 for this experiment), and the exposure time (5 seconds for this test) which I’ll need from what I’ve read about getting great fireworks shots.
I then took my camera out front of my apartment and figured this would be a great test – even though I don’t live near a highway, the road here is constant with traffic about 21 hours a day…
Well here’s the results (I realized during shooting that I hadn’t set the f-stop and ended up with the camera automatically going from f 2.7 to about 3.5 depending on the shot – so next I’ll have to figure that out – I’ve read that anywhere from f4 – f8 should be right for fireworks…)