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Fireworks: This Time With A REAL Twist . . .

Over the last 48 hours, I’ve seen a lot of stunning fireworks photos, all celebrating our country’s independence. 99% of them had a few things in common — they had a lovely foreground, usually in silhouette, often with people, trees, bodies of water (and their attendant reflections), or buildings. One of my really good friends just posted one such shot on his FB page. Stunning image.

I couldn’t shoot one of those if my life depended on it. Understand that I’m not saying I *wouldn’t*, I’m saying, I *can’t.* It’s not in me. It seriously just isn’t in there.

What is in there is the undeniable (as in “I can’t fight it”) urge to do something different (read: "whacky"). I’m just that way: the odd angle, the odd perspective, and so forth.

Fireworks are so abstract that they scream, “GET CRAZY!!” So I try to do just that.

If you’ve seen any of my past fireworks images (, you are aware that I often like to start completely out of focus, then, during the 3-6 second exposure, slowly rotate the focus ring on the lens to infinity (fireworks are usually far enough away that perfect focus is at infinity).

I started off that same way again this year. <YAWN> Getting boring. Need something different.

Then I rotated my setup from horizontal to vertical.

Eureka!! An idea!!

For the last several years, I’ve been shooting my fireworks from my son’s backyard, where we get great views of his town’s major display, all without the hassle of the crowds at the park. There are houses (and their roofs) in my foreground, but since I don’t care about the foreground in my fireworks shots, I don’t care. I just shoot over the roofs.

However, this necessitates the need for my ever trusty NikonUSA 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

Which has a tripod collar.

Hmmm . . .

Loosen the collar, rotate my NikonUSA Z7ii to vertical, then, wait for a burst. Just before the burst goes off (I can usually anticipate a burst slightly by seeing (and hearing) the rocket going up), I hit the shutter release, and a hair’s breadth later, I start rotating the camera back to horizontal, or sometimes further. On a couple of shots, I got almost all the way back around before the shutter closed.

These were all shot in manual mode, 6 sec, f/10, 0 EV, ISO Lo 0.3 (LR shows ISO 40).

This was the first time for shooting fireworks with the Z7ii, and as a result, I did something else I never thought I’d find myself doing — ignoring the viewfinder.

These were shot almost exclusively using the monitor on the back of the camera for initial framing. Doing this rotating trick would not have worked using traditional methods, as I would have had to pull my head away from the viewfinder either just a split second before or after beginning the exposure, and that would have brought about a noticeable delay in the rotation. Being able to use the monitor on the back of the camera was great.

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