Shortly after I arrived in Seoul last year I got word that there would be a big fireworks festival down by the river to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the nation of Korea. I also got word that seemingly, every person from Seoul would try to fill the same two stretches of river bank to see the fireworks leaving many without a place to sit.
My plan was to hike up to the top of Gwanaksan, a relatively small mountain not too far from my house, where I would camp for the night and watch the fireworks. I kind Korean man joined me on the ascent, assuring that I made it but then refused to leave me at the top. Eventually I just hiked down with him, got some food and went home. I was way too late to try to find a seat along the river so I climbed up to the roof of my apartment building from that time and caught the show from a distance.
I didn’t have a tripod and had never tried to photograph fireworks. the picture above was the best i could do and was the only keeper.
This year I could have gone to the river, but preferring not to be around huge crowds I opted to head to the rood again but this time to a rood top a little closer and with a better view. I also had a tripod and some new knowledge about shooting fireworks.
My favorite discovery, which I had played around with, however not for shooting fireworks is a dark colored card to cover the lens. This allows you to capture events happening at different times while still controlling the exposure, sort of like a double exposure of the same scene.
For example, there was a red burst of fireworks in the air and then 15 seconds later there was a green pop a little lower on the horizon. During the 15 seconds between the explosions you cover the lens to not over expose the city-scape, and then take it away to capture the second.
To do this you need to find the shutter speed for a correct exposure, mine was 10 seconds. Then I changes the shutter speed to 30 seconds. I open the shutter when the first firework goes off. I estimate the seconds that the shutter is open, say 3 seconds. Then cover the lens. I now have 7 seconds remaining of image exposure and 27 seconds of total exposure. 10 seconds elapses when the next explosion happens, take away the card for 4 seconds and cover again. now you have 7 seconds total image exposure. wait for the sky to go black open for 3 seconds and close again. wait until shutter closes and you will have an image that should be close to correctly exposed.
You will have to use some guessing because some fireworks are much brighter than others and will blow out details faster than others. These are the Jpeg versions of my keepers. See my Flickr for higher quality versions.