Editing Firework Images

I certainly hope that you had a very safe July 4th holiday and were able to spend time with family and friends at a nice firework show. If you were able to get some photographs of the fireworks you may be looking at your collection of images with a little disappointment.

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Professional shows are quite expensive so, with the exception of a grand finale, the fireworks are sparingly launched one or two at a time. As much as I enjoy a nice image of a single firework, I really want an image that captures the spirit of the evening. So, let’s create a composite image that combines several of the single images into one spectacular photograph.

First, I shoot with the intention of combining images after the show. That means that I keep my camera on a sturdy tripod, and I don’t move or change the composition. In fact, I set up my camera and just used the Canon Connect app on my iPhone to control the camera from my lounge chair. After all, I’m there to enjoy the show with my family too.

You can certainly combine firework images that were shot from different angles or focal lengths but by keeping the camera steady any illumination that is reflected off the ground or water will be properly aligned. (To learn more about exposing for fireworks, see last week’s blog post.)

Now that you’ve got all these great images on your computer, it’s time to put together killer image. First, find one image that has a nice exposure and maybe even has something showing up on the ground. Open that image in Photoshop.

Next, find another exposure that shows off a really brilliant explosion and Place that image as a layer in the same Photoshop file. Now, by default, that image will cover your other image and all you’ll see is the new layer that you just brought in. No worries.

With the new layer selected, click on the blending mode option at the top of the layers panel. It’s the one that usually shows “Normal”. Change the blending mode to “Lighten” and voila, you now have both images blended together.

The layer that you just blended may need a little cleaning up if you have stray light on the image. That’s easily done with a layer mask. When you create a layer mask, simply paint with black on the mask over any light spots that you don’t want to show up on the composite image.

Now you just repeat this process for any other firework images that you’d like to add to your composite. Remember that you can resize and move the layer to place it where you want it on your composite.

It’s a lot of fun and you can create some truly spectacular images. We’d love to have you share any images that you create too.