Fireworks at Chelsea Park

Fireworks at Chelsea Park

Night Time Photography

Fireworks at Chelsea Park-5

On November 5th we subversively celebrate the biggest act of treason; a plot by Catholics to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the then protestant King James I. The plot was originally hatched in 1605. Subsequently bonfires were lit to celebrate the fact that King James I survived the plot. However whatever your religion, it does not matter anymore, a tradition that has survived over 400 years and as it is now an excuse to get warm by a fire and clear out the dead wood, and watch some fireworks as the winter starts to draw in.

Our street was subject to a horrific tragedy on 5th November in 2007, our friends Gary Gardiner and Jane Wheatley were cruelly taken away. I am sure that they would want their friends and family to continue to celebrate the 5th of November in memory of their lives and not their deaths, and I would like to take this opportunity to remember their lives.

Me and my partner Reuben decided to go to Chelsea Park Scouts Annual Firework display, an opportunity for me to try out some fireworks photography, and he could enjoy the display while I worked, than be bored waiting on me to move along.

I have only ever done one other fireworks photography from News Year Eve/Day 2014,  and this is my second attempt. I did a spot of research; the tips card from Digital Camera edition 144 suggested manual settings, bulb mode at f/9 ISO 100 and exposure time of around 30 – 60 seconds. This seemed a rather extreme length of time, knowing the highlights would be blown out and allowing to too much light in from the fire thus introducing too much noise. I pootled around the internet, and f/11 was suggested with shorter exposure times from 4 seconds until you felt you had what you needed. I settled for the f/11 and avoided exposure times to far beyond 20 seconds.

There is not much of vantage point due to the location of the bonfire at the top of the hill. We scouted around the area before the masses arrived for a suitable spot and stood near some trees and stinging nettles about 50 feet away from the fire. I finally set up the tripod, camera and did some test shots as soon as they lit the fire, and then patiently waited for 45 minutes before the fireworks display started. I was concerned about the light from the fire, and was doubtful of my position, and suspected the composition and framing would be a problem; and it was. I felt we were too near, but there was just not enough time to relocate. Well you have to practice and make some mistakes, how else do you learn? For me I like to get the technique right then work on the composition.

People were arriving and you feel the anticipation in the atmosphere. Families and couples and groups of friends were gathering at a pace 15 minutes before the display, it was exciting. Kiddies with their sparklers. The warmth of the fire was blocked by the gatherers keen to get a good view of the display, luckily the fire died down a lot as it descended down the pile, and the clouds dissipated in time for the display.


Please click on any image to enter the gallery. The Exif data is present for the exposure times.

 When it came to post processing, I used Lightroom 4.

Post Processing

  1. After importing I applied the lens corrections.
  2. I enhanced using contrast, clarity and vibrancy and the tone curve to suit avoiding ‘over cooking’.
  3. Reduced the highlight/white and shadow/black clipping, however this is not so much and issue as the dark contrast is welcome in these shots. To help with some of the clipping I De-saturated a little using the tool from the HSL panel.
  4. Luminance and colour noise reduction were applied to suit.
  5. I used the spot tool to remove someones head in the bottom right, as it was a distraction, and applied a little vignetting to help mask differences in the foliage on the first 4 images.
  6. When it came to sharpening at 48%, I reduced the radius to 0.5, to improve the finer light trails, and masked out at round 50 to prevent over sharpening.

I did this with no research and happy to share a little of what I do know. However other people may post process using better techniques than mine.

Equipment list
  1. Canon 550d
  2. Tripod – Giottos YTL8354, with MH5011 head.
  3. Intervelometer
  4. Torch
  5. Wrapped up warm

Thank you for stopping by my blog today 🙂


One thought on “Fireworks at Chelsea Park

Add yours

  1. I think 4 and 6 are my favourites – fantastic shots – last time I tried to photograph fireworks was new year 2003 – and the ‘negative’ of the firework pictures came through on all the photos I took with that camera for ever after!

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