The Fireworks are Back and Better than Ever

Fireworks over Lake Austin - Austin, Texas

Fireworks over Lake Austin – Austin, Texas

The 4th of July fireworks are back. I headed to the 360 Bridge, hoping that the Austin Country Club would do their annual show, now that COVID is better under control. You’ve seen this vantage point before. I’ve showcased many a fireworks scene from here, shot with different cameras.

Two years ago was a technical dud, but an artistic win. Heavy winds forced me to improvise with unclear photographs. The resulting art-ish watercolor is one of my favorites that I printed and framed. It’s currently on display in my home gallery.

This year is a technical win. And my best ever photograph of the event. I was wondering what the high resolution and great dynamic range of the Fujifilm GFX 50R could do. It turned out better than expected. The sharpness and clarity are unmatched by my previous attempts. To get the widest angle, I used the Canon 24-105mm lens with an adapter. Though this resulted in a, still acceptable, 30MP image instead of 51MP. Despite the lower resolution, I get all the dynamic range goodness of the medium format sensor.

The unexpected headache was, the lens would reset focus after every shot. Even if I kept the camera and lens on manual focus. That slowed down the process tremendously. Luckily, I got a couple of really lovely fireworks bursts. There is a lot of luck involved in making a good fireworks photo. I keep the shutter open from 15 – 20 seconds, but there is no way to control the quality and size of the bursts. If too many come too quickly, they stack up and make a jumbled mess.

Electric River - Austin, Texas

Electric River – Austin, Texas

After the fireworks ended and everyone rushes home, I get one more chance at a fascinating long exposure. The boats start heading home too, and capturing the resulting motion blur can be worthwhile. I’ve tried this a couple of times before. This is my best attempt yet. I really only had one shot at the photograph. I set the camera for a 4-minute exposure. Afterward, the camera locked up for another 4 minutes to process the long exposure noise.

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