Happy New Year

A new year has just begun and this is the time for me to start my new blog.
My first post should deal with the New Year's firework. I decided not to capture the real one, but to start with something more easier ... a sparkler. This gives me the opportunity to experiment a lot, because I have plenty of sparklers and plenty of time. A real firework would last some minutes only with different scenes and light conditions.

The lens I used was my Canon EF 100mm/2.8L Macro lens. It produces the best sharpness and it allows me to get quite close to the sparkler. The pictures were taken out on my balcony in the late afternoon. There was enough light for autofocus to work and it was dark enough to get a very dark background. No additional light or flash was used. I have mounted my camera to a tripod and connected it to my notebook computer for remote control. The sparkler was held on a table with a clip.

Now it was time for the camera settings. For the focus I first used autofocus and then switched the lens to manual. This procedure I repeated on every new sparkler. Image stabilizer was off. Since I wanted to capture the sparks I had to use high shutter speeds. The first attempt was with a low aperture and lowest ISO. I switched the camera to aperture mode, set an aperture of 2.8, ISO to 100 and let the camera choose the shutter speed. The result was bad. The low aperture produced a very tight focus depth and most of the picture was out of focus. I had to use higher aperture values which implies higher ISO values to still get relatively high shutter speeds. I experimented a bit with aperture values from 5 to 11 and ISO values of 200 and 400. The results were much better. Furthermore I placed the camera at different distances to the sparkler. What I still didn't like was the high brightness of the burning flame in the center. I switched the camera to completely manual mode and set the shutter speed higher and aperture lower to get a darker picture.

After about an hour it got so dark that the autofocus didn't work anymore. I decided that I have burned down enough sparklers and to finish for today.

And here it is ... The Sparkler!

The first picture shows a close up. The thick sparkler leads to a relativly small flame and a nice cloud of sparks. I like all those little explosions. The sparks are well spread. The focus depth is balanced. There are lots of quite sharp sparks and blurred areas. I like this one.

The photo was shot in aperture mode, with an aperture of 8 and ISO 400. The camera has chosen a shutter speed of 1/25 sec.


The next picture was taken at a slightly higher distance. The sparkler itself is not as thick anymore and you can see the whole thing. What I like in this shot is the glowing right after the flame. The cascading explosions in the upper right area are fascinating. The light wind blows the sparks away and produces curved flight paths. Not so nice is the large bright flaming area in the center.

The photo was also shot in aperture mode, with an aperture of 8 and ISO 400. The camera has chosen a shutter speed of 1/6 sec, which propably produced the huge flaming area.

To prevent those large bright flames I manually set the camera settings and this third picture is the result. The whole scene is much darker. The flight paths of the sparks are shorter and the whole cloud of sparks is smaller. There are not that much explosions. But the flame is quite small and you can see the glowing of the sparkler again. The photo was taken at an even higher distance as the previous one and additionally at a different angle, which gives the sparkler a nice focus blur. Even it is quite dark, I like this one, too.

The photo was shot in manual mode with an aperture of 5.6, ISO 200 and a shutter speed of 1/40 sec.

Comments and feedback are very welcome!

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