How to Tell a Story With Your Fireworks

Many of us tried to take some photos last week of the Independence Day fireworks and test our skills as photographers. But how many of us attempted to share a story through our photos at the same time? For the 4th of July, I was in Washington State and this is my story about fireworks and how I resurrected my photos (with the help of Photoshop):

 

The Setup

During my trip to Washington, I was staying at this gorgeous house that sits up on the ridge of town overlooking the valley below. Leading up to the fireworks show for that night, I was told just how spectacular the sight is when you can see a huge number of fireworks being lit off into the sky.

"A room with a view."

“A room with a view.” – iPhone 5

 

The Dilemma

As the fireworks started to light up the night sky, it truly was an amazing vantage point from which I could see so many fireworks, at once, going off. However, to my dismay I soon realized that they were just too far away to make for a good photograph. I tried anyway. I could show that there were several fireworks being fired off, but it just wasn’t the story or feeling I was looking for.

Fireworks1_Kelso_DustinOlsen

60 seconds • f/14 • ISO 100

 

The Solution

I pulled my camera back, set the tripod down low, zoomed out wide, grabbed my speedlight, and framed up a shot that would soon become my new foreground to all these fireworks. I really wanted to show or give the feeling of sitting up on this ridge watching the fireworks, even though from this far back the fireworks look even smaller. But it is so important not to forget the whole human element of the shot! Now I have another self-portrait of myself watching fireworks.

LawnChair

DustinOlsen_lawnChair

8 seconds • f/8 • ISO 100

 

The Final Product

Now that I had my fireworks shots and my new foreground, I turned to my trusted Photoshop to composite the images together.

It was easy enough to use the Magic Wand tool and select everything that was black in the shot and DELETE. This essentially left me with just the fireworks that showed up and I could then mask out what I didn’t want and place it where I wanted it on the foreground image. I used three different fireworks images and composited them together.

With great composition like this, I couldn’t let it go to waste without adding on some text to help commemorate the event and give it that “postcard” effect. :)

Now I have an image that shows me watching the fireworks from where I was sitting looking over the valley and thanking the lovely townspeople for putting on such a good show.

DustinOlsen_Fireworks_KelsoWA

What story can you tell with your fireworks?

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. Martin says

    Hi Dustin,

    This is a very creative approach, and one that I struggle to take as a new photographer. Now that I’m getting better with off-camera flash that will help me rethink different subjects as well.

    Thanks for sharing.

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