Double Exposure

Unfortunately, getting fireworks photography right takes practice. The problem is that you don’t get a second chance, so you need to read up on as many different techniques as possible before the event.

Here are some shots from my collection covering 2017-19…

All taken at f/22 and 100 ISO, times vary

Single shot of 4 seconds…

Multiple shot. Mostly 5 shots of 4 seconds…

Grand finale, 10 shots of 8 seconds…

What happens on a night when the dew falls and an atmospheric inversion traps the smoke over the launch site…

I found the key was to open the shutter as soon as you heard the “ploof!” of the bomb being launched.

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Well, whatever “the trick” is, you’ve got it! I especially like this image - it is everything I hoped for, but didn’t get. I used ISO 100 as I recall, and the later shots were two seconds (you used four), and I think I was around f/8 or so at first, trying other settings too. You used f/22 which might explain why your colors are so nice, without getting burnt our like some of mine.

Maybe next time I’ll just use a piece of black cardboard in front of the lens, remove it to take a shot, and after three or four bursts, close the shutter and go to the next frame for more.

I love that in the last photo I copied, the ground is visible, and if I’m not mistaken, you’ve got a reflection in the water. Both of those things really look good to me. I imagine with PL4 you can control them, showing just enough detail, but not too much.

Very nicely done!!! Excellent!!!

I think the answer is it depends… There is no perfect tool.
PL has some (i would say even huge) limitations for local adjustments. It can’t do macro (no focus stacking), and you can’t modify skin tones but globally. I know you like the journalist spirit, but sometimes what you get on the pic is not what you would have liked to get, simply because the camera is not human eyes. On the whole, to modify colors, or luminosity i find Affinity or Capture one more powerful.
PL’s UI is very simple and easy to use and you can get quite decent pic quickly. The user corrections can be very handy and very quick on a same group of pics.
I use it for quick sharing and landscapes (when i don’t need focus stacking). Sharpness correction is also very good and simple to get. I bought also filmpack to have an integrated B&W solution, even if the Silver nik collection app by google is very good, but you need to work with tif
DEEPPRIME is as we all know very good (but useless if you shoot small iso and you have right histogram and extremely slow if you don’t have modern graphic card : it takes me 9mn or so, so i use it when really necessary). There is this possibility to export the Dng from PL with DP and lens correction that can save you some work in another softwares with very good results.
Raw therapee is too complicated for me (more complicated than Darktable) and Photoshop well too expensive, and too powerfull (and also complicated if you don’t look all the tutorials) for my use. I got Affinity during Black Friday for a very fair price and am very happy with it.
In the long list of softwares you have also the manufacturer’s one, which for interpreting raws are supposed to be the best. I use Sylkypix for my panasonic for extreme cases (burnt areas for instance).

To me, the difference between PL and all the others, is that they are all very “clinical”. Open the image up in their “box”, select the changes you want, and they follow through with what they thought you wanted to do.

PL feels more like an extension of my hand. I took the photo, it is placed on my screen, and I can select the various tools and manipulate the image, knowing how far to go, and when I’ve gone too far, allowing me to back off. It feels like a sculptor and a clay model, as I manipulate the image until it matches what is in my mind. Once learned, the tools are very intuitive, especially when someone here teaches me I was using the wrong tool, and there was a better choice. I don’t get this “feeling” from the other image editors. It feels like me walking around with the camera, to find the best spot to shoot from.

At the same time, it’s not a miracle worker. The original image needs to have something worthwhile captured in it, to be brought out nicely with PL4. That’s where composition, and timing, and selecting the best camera settings come in. PL can’t fix a bad photograph, but it can certainly bring out the best in a good photograph.

Maybe what you wrote is at the heart of why I enjoy it so much - eventually, it becomes “intuitive”.

(And I realize I’m writing this from the point of view of a relative beginner. Watching PhotoJoseph at work makes me realize there is so much more I have to “see” and “be aware of” before I’m really in a position to improve it. Maybe I’m now up to the second grade, far away from an expert, but much better than a novice. …and I shouldn’t leave one more thing unspoken - because of the interface being so intuitive, it is FAR more enjoyable to use than those other editors.)

I see the various software products as belonging to two different categories.

Dark room tools are those like Lightroom, Aperture (RIP), Luminar, and PhotoLab. Their primary purpose is to “process” collections of photographs. Most have DAM features built in and many have more powerful functions in addition, but focus on light, colour, detail, framing of each photo.

Editing tools are those like Photoshop and Affinity Photo. Their primary purpose is to “construct” graphics, be they based on photos or other forms of graphics. Many have a lot of the features that dark room tools have, but they are single-image (output) focused (and do not have DAMs of any kind) and allow for absolutely anything to be done with that image including cutting and compositing, distortion, drawing, complex layering, and more.

The nature of these types of tools is in general the one is often limited in performing the functions of the other. There are some notable breakouts from these arbitrary boxes I have defined. Luminar has layers and blend modes, for example. But I think the basic focus of each product is fairly clear. Possibly the definitive difference is a dark room tool will not allow you to add arbitrary pixels of a chosen colour where an editor will.

With these definitions in mind, I really only use one of each. PhotoLab is my dark room tool, and Affinity Photo is my editing tool. Where I cheat on that a bit is in using Lightroom, unlicensed, as a DAM. In this sense, it is no different to using Bridge as a DAM for Photoshop — a separate tool for a separate job.

On the topic of focus stacking, panorama stitching, and HDR, I see these as either editor tasks or a job for specialist software — the clue being that such specialist software exists in significant numbers.

I would prefer focus stacking, panorama stitching, and HDR be included as combined merge tools within PhotoLab. I use those techniques a lot and it would save time to do it smoothly within one application.