Two Questions

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    First, what settings do I use for a pinhole digital? Without a lens, I can’t change the f/stop, nor can I focus, but I can adjust (it seems) everything else. I assume that putting just the pinhole in front of it helps with forming a pictures because otherwise I’m just getting solid color, fuzzy images.

    Second, how do I take good pictures of fireworks? This is my first year to go to fireworks with a DSLR (not a P&S with a fireworks setting), and I got my tripod last year, so I’m good with that. Am I going to want to use the 75-300 lens or the 18-55? I’m really looking forward to the no processing time with these pictures as the camera takes them, so how long should the exposure be, f/stop and ISO suggestions? The collective here has taken some REALLY good fireworks pictures, so I’m looking for some general settings to get started with and adjust as I go based on what I see.



    To the first, a pinhole is like a super small f/stop, so depth of field is maximized; focus isn’t really necessary, vignetting often can occur (part of the allure, really), and use a tripod, because you’ll need long exposures even in full sun (and for dark scenes, plan on a minute, if not several minutes.)

    To the 2nd, pm your email; my aunt sent me a spiffy pdf file with tips on taking pictures of fireworks (though ironically, the resolution of the photos in the file sucks–but the tips are valid.)


    For fireworks:

    • You’ve got your camera and tripod, but you’ll also need a remote shutter release cable. You’ll be taking lots of long-exposure shots so you don’t want to touch the camera during exposure.
    • Lens: It depends on how far away you’re going to be and how large the fireworks are, but most of mine are in the 50mm range, so all other things being equal, the 18-55 is probably the one.
    • ISO-100, there’ll be plenty of light and you want the least noise possible.
    • Set your lens on manual focus and adjust it to infinity. Remember that that doesn’t mean as far as the focus ring will turn, but rather to the infinity mark on the focus indicator.
    • Start at f/16 but review your first few shots and adjust down or up as necessary. Mine run from f/11 to f/22 but most are f/16.
    • Open the shutter when you see a shot go up and keep it open until it explodes, allowing for multiple bursts as desired and depending on how far apart they are. Keep in mind that after too many bursts they’ll start to blend together; generally, 2-4 is best.
    • Endings are usually multiple-burst extravaganzas that will overwhelm your current settings, so when you’re ready to shoot the finale, stop your lens down some.

    Here are my shots from past contests and their settings (all are ISO-100):

    From All Night Long, 50mm, 29s, f/16

    From Sparks & Arcs, 47mm, 6s, f/16

    From Sparks & Arcs, 52mm, 5s, f/22 (this was the finale so I stopped it down)

    From Me Love You Long Time, 47mm, 11s, f/18


    For pinhole cap, set your camera in manual, depending on the ISO, the actual size of the pinhole, and ambient lighting a 30 second exposure may work (at 200 ISO in full sun, 2 seconds is plenty, in an indoor room at night with a 60W table lamp, 3-5 minutes can be expected). For most DSLR bodies, you can think of a pinhole cap as a fixed focus 50mm f/235 lens with infinite DoF.

    Tripod is mostly a must, but a firm surface can be fine. Remote trigger cables help in the 2-5 second range, and a programmable remote will work wonders in bulb mode for anything over 30 seconds (since most cameras don’t have manual exposure longer than 30)

    If you want, I can delve into some heavy physics of pinholes – how and why they work, but the information above (including from the other fellows), should be more than adequate for getting started. Also, make sure the pinhole is the only source of light to the sensor, either by being mounted in a cap or completely taped off with gaffers tape.

    Re: fireworks, here’s a good link that pretty much echos everything CISS already said:

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