Fireworks Season — Relook at Cropping Plus Content Aware

Photoshop CC 2017 gives us an amazing feature under the crop tool.  Normally we think of using the crop tool to reduce an image or take away something we don’t want in an image.

(This tool was added in version 2015.5, by the way, so you might have it.)

With Crop we can ADD a bit to an image.  This is useful if we cut something off or something spills out of the frame.

Notice in the photo on the left that the burst of light exceeded the size of the frame.

In the photo on the right, you’ll see that the top of burst has been captured — or recreated.

I did that with Content Aware in the crop tool in  Photoshop 2017.

Here’s how it works:

  • Open the image in Photoshop CC.
  • Click on the crop tool
  • Click on the tiny box next to the words Content Aware in the ribbon above the photo. (I’ve circled it below)
  • Then pull the crop box up about 1/4 inch.
  • Press return and Photoshop works magic and the small area above the photo is filled in.
  • Do that again with another 1/4 inch and a bit more area is created.
  • Flatten the layers when finished.
  • Click Filter>Camera Raw Filter or open into Lightroom for minor tweaking to the cloned area.


Pretty amazing tool, Adobe.  Give it a try as you process your fireworks photos.

Fireworks — Layers Can Be Your Friend

Fireworks in The Woodlands, Texas, on the 4th of July.  Fourth of July
This is a layer blend of several photos.

Not every photo you take at the fireworks display will be perfect.  The burst will be too small, the burst will be a bit to the left, the other too far to the right, etc.

Let Layers in Photoshop come to the rescue.

This only works, by the way, if you don’t move your tripod during the display.

Highlight each image that you want to blend in Photoshop Bridge.  Clicked on Tools >Photoshop> Load Files Into Photoshop Layers.  Photoshop opens the images in a layer stack on the right side.  (Lightroom users will highlight all the images, click Edit>Photo>Load Files Into Photoshop Layers.)

Highlight each image, then clicked on Lighten in the blend mode.  Then click Layer>Flatten.   Click on Filter>Camera Raw Filter to open the image in Adobe Camera Raw so you can tweek it a bit.

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Photograph Fireworks

Fireworks, crowd, Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, Texas.
You didn’t get to the display in time.  You’re not in your desired location.  Make it work!

Don’t stress it if things aren’t going well at the fireworks display.

Put the camera on the tripod.  Frame the scene in front of you.  Set the camera’s mode to Aperture Priority.  Dial the f/stop to 5.6.  Raise the ISO to around 400.

Take a couple of shots.  Look at them on the back of the camera.  Too bright, then drop the ISO to 200 or 100.  Not bright enough, raise the ISO to 800 — though this is usually not the case.  Take a couple of shots and repeat.

The key is to not get flustered.  You can do it!

 

Photographing Fireworks

Fireworks, Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, Texas, Amusement park.Do you have your spot staked out? Do you know where you’re going to be 90-minutes or two-hours before the fireworks start?

Wonderful photos of fireworks come when you’ve thought about your vantage point. Then you’re there and ready to go when the display starts.

Equipment: Tripod, camera, and optional cable release. Camera set on Aperture Priority with the aperture set at 4.5 or 5.6. That gives you a lot of light. Then ISO at about 400. No need for too high of an ISO because then the color and grain are sacrificed.

Once the fireworks begin, check your photos periodically on the back of the camera. Long shutter speed means lots of streaks, or draping, in the fireworks burst. Shot shutter speed means dots of light in the sky versus streaks.

Fireworks, Galveston Bay, Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, Texas.
Want more streaks in your fireworks? Use a longer shutter speed.  I shoot in Aperture Priority, so that means I move my f/stop to f/8 or f/10 to get a longer shutter speed.

Want more shutter speed? Move the aperture to f/8. (Watch the shutter speed increase as the sky fills with a fireworks burst. The shutter speed goes down when there are no bursts in the sky.)

Avoid clicking the shutter when there are no fireworks in the sky.  Hit the shutter when  the burst begins. This gives your photos a better exposure since the light meter is set for light in the sky versus a dark sky.

Take most of your photos early in the display. Smoke fills the sky toward the end of the display and doesn’t look as good.

Have fun. Enjoy yourself! Take good pictures!!

Fireworks: Stakeout Your Location

Fireworks in The Woodlands, Texas, on the 4th of July.  Fourth of JulyThe 4th of July is coming up in the United States.  That means fireworks displays all over the country.

Now is the time to figure out where you’re going to stand so you can get magnificent photos of your local display.

I suggest you start doing your research now.  Figure out the launching location.  This is usually published in the local newspaper or municipal website.   Then figure out where you’re going to stand so there’s an interesting foreground.

If possible, scout the area ahead of time.  I know that sounds crazy and obsessive but there are a lot of photographers out there.  I guarantee five other photographers have found the same location.

(I found my spot and scouted the area during my morning walk.  I have my prime location and two other contingency locations.)

Fireworks KAC9844 croppedConsider getting into location early.  That might mean two-hours ahead of time in super crowded locations.  Maybe only thirty minutes for a small town display.   Go ahead and break it to your family that you need to be on location ahead of time.  Get everyone prepared.

Fireworks over The Woodlands