Sep 072008


FireworksSpent a couple of hours watching fireworks on friday.

The Töölönlahti park was packed (official estimates are around 120’000 attendees), but not too tight, it was possible to walk around pretty much the whole time. As long as the ringside positions were not concerned. Watched the first bout from the Hesperia park, and the rest much closer to Töölönlahti.

The event was the finnish championships of pyrotechnics, and the five participating teams had used a lot of care and money to put up semi-spectacular displays in the dark sky.

According to passersby, this year’s competition returned to using music in the background – last year’s having been all about loud bangs. The selection was rather predictable, with a surprise use of Tina Turner’s Simply the best, most of the teams used metal – Nightwish to be exact, three of the participants relied on the finnish band.

FireworksPhotography-wise the subject turned out to be challenging indeed as I expected. The hit rate of bearable images amongst all of those shot was in single figure percentages. And even there the artistic allowances in quality have to be more forgiving than usual.

I shot with the S3, handheld, using exposure times between 250 ms and one second. This brought in a lot of jitter, as the aging imagestabilizer was unable to provide much assistance.

A couple of pictures did turn out all right, but most were just colored blurs on a pitch-black background. And some images do not really resemble fireworks at all, rather than things picked up by the Hubble telescope on a bad hair day.

Next time demands much better preparations. And scoping out a good location where a tripod can be used without putting it in the way of too many drunken kids.


  4 Responses to “Sky on Fire”

  1. I really like the first and last photograph, I guess their shutter speed is around 1s?
    Third photograph is a bit dull, because it only has one rocket in it.
    All my photographs from the event were taken at 5-13s exposures (on tripod with cable release) with low ISO and small aperture. You can find my keepers from

  2. Nice work.

    Where did you set up the works? And how crowded was it up there?

    The third image is indeed very much on the dull side, but it’s pretty much the only one without distractions in the picture.

  3. My photographs were taken from cliffs that are between railway tracks and Linnanmäki. I walked there couple hours before the event, setup my tripod and started to read National Geographic to kill time.
    By the time event started, one photographer with tripod was about five meters from me. What comes to rest of the crowd, I had people within 2 meters in every direction (except in front of me), but since people were more or less standing where they had sit down, it didn’t feel that crowded and it didn’t have effect on my photography.
    Only real downside on my spot was that you couldn’t hear the music that was supposed to go along with pyrotechnics.

  4. Yeah, figured from the angles that you were somewhere in that area.

    Might check it out next time.

    Missing the music is no bid deal. At least to my truly atonal ears the connection between visuals and questionable musical selections was at best tenuous, at worst nonexistent.

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