The Big Bang

What is a Malaysian flower show without fireworks? After all, fireworks in Malay is ‘bunga api’ or fire flower. In Cantonese, it is ‘yin fah’ or smoke flower.

A flotilla of illuminated boats gathered on the lake at Floria Putrajaya 2013 as spectacular fireworks were set off. As with all major fireworks displays, there is one spectacular big bang at the end. This was when I decided to use a somewhat risky and nervy technique.

An exposure duration of 1/2 to 1 second is normally enough to blur the light trails of the fireworks nicely. I decided to go for a long 10-second exposure to capture the multiple bursts in a single shot. This is tough because with such a long exposures, the camera will trigger its dark-frame subtraction processing. You can turn it off but sensor thermal noise may ruin the image instead.

With it enabled, you effectively more than doubled the exposure time. It means standing around helpless for 30 seconds or more as the camera captures, processes and writes the image to the storage card. It is like waiting for a lifetime during a fireworks display.

That is OK but at a crowded place, a kid may grab one of your tripod legs in excitement or a camwhore might fire a flash ruining your shot. If that is not enough, the sky can also get very smoky towards the end of the display. If it at the end of it something screws up, the show will be probably be over. There is no second chance.

Olympus OM-D, ISO 200, f16, 10 sec.

The Big Bang


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