Fireworks displays will always be a favorite event for photographers. The allure of shooting exploding colors of light is just too much resist. The thing is, with countless lensmen out there shooting the spectacle, how do you make your work stand out? Well, Ottawa, Canada based-photographer Davey Johnson knows one way how.
He shoots remarkably unique fireworks photos that look like anything but, exploding fireworks. His photographs appear more like colorful painted flowers and petals. Johnson unselfishly described the method he used after sharing his series on Reddit. He uses a tripod and calibrates his camera gear a stated, to yield amazing shots. Camera settings are typically: 50mm 1.4 on 5D MKII, Aperture 2.8 using a 0.9 natural density filter and an ISO 100.
This is what he said:
“When I saw a firework shooting in the air, I’d press the shutter button and hold in Bulb mode so that the exposure was precisely as long as it needed to be. When the explosion started, I would quickly refocus back to the fireworks (from 2ft in front of me). The exposure would start out of focus and slowly sharpen into focused points, which explains the strange shapes.”
Johnson made a point of abandoning the standard long exposure style that is so common for shooting fireworks displays. Rather than concentrate his camera focus at a certain point, Johnson introduced the element of refocusing, which he also elaborated on.
“The technique I used was a simple refocus during the long exposure. Each shot was about a second long, sometimes two. I’d start out of focus, and when I heard the explosion I would quickly refocus, so the little stems on these deep sea creature lookalikes would grow into a fine point. The shapes are quite bizarre, some of them I was pleasantly surprised with.
The result is genius. Who would have guessed that these delicate looking shapes and colors were actually generated by violent explosions?
See the incredible series here along with Johnson’s other works.