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Tutorials: The Golden Hour and Fireworks

June 11th, 2013 No Comments

Here are two dandy tutorials: one shows you how to simulate the ‘Golden Hour’ and the other one’s a tutorial on a special type of Night Photography – fireworks.

Mimicking the Golden Hour

David Hobby on Strobist was miffed at some clouds for obscuring the sun one evening when he wanted to take portraits of a pair of pretty flautists posing against the woods.  So he ‘faked’ the ‘Golden Hour’!  If you look at his photograph you may well conclude that it is indeed naturally lit with nothing but a large reflector fairly close to the camera.

Hobby used a monolight with – and here’s the trick – “a Rosco #08 straw gel” and also set it 50 feet away from the subjects.  He explains that the “#08 gel is like a ¼ CTO.”  (CTO is an abbreviation for ‘Colour Temperature Orange’; a warming gel.)  This was for rim lighting and highlights, besides what was reflected off the umberellas in front.

In front, he used a more conventional clamshell setup – speedlights in umberellas angled up and down.  That said, this setup actually mimicked what would have been natural, directional sunlight reflected off the umberellas.

Hobby also teaches you how to light and shoot a faux ‘studio’ portrait outdoors.

A Firework Spectacular

Darlene Hildebrandt writing in DPSchool states up front that shooting fireworks is “all about practice, experimentation” and “trial and error.”  The fifteen tips that she proceeds to give were evidently learnt in this way by her.  

A few tips may seem intuitive, such as the need to use a really good, “sturdy” tripod (though these ‘obvious’ tips are great to have because this makes the tutorial comprehensive and complete).  Others may either seem counter-intuitive until you read the reasoning or may be altogether expert knowledge.

For example, it’s best to keep long-exposure noise reduction off.  Another thing to turn off is autofocus.  Instead, prefocus (and considering the distance to the subject, i.e. near-infinity, that shouldn’t be too hard).

She also offers more mechanical guidance, such as advising that an aperture of f/8 is the ‘go to’ aperture for Fireworks Photography.

Hildebrandt creates striking images by keeping the shutter open long enough to capture two or more clearly different fireworks bursts in a single exposure.  Indeed, she explains, “Or you can switch to Bulb and just open and close manually when you feel you’ve captured enough bursts in one image.”

You can also learn a lot about Fireworks Photography by studying Hildebrandt’s photographs, a few of which are quite spectacular.

A few of her photos are not about just fireworks; they show fireworks in their setting with an urban landscape and human viewers; thus, such images are also excellent compositions and can be seen as (comparatively hard-to-shoot) photojournalism.


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