Happy New Year!!!
This year I decided to stop thinking about watching (photographing) the fireworks over the San Francisco Bay and actually get out and do it. One of my good friends and great photographer, Steve was only happy to come along and plan our New Year’s Eve photo excursion. We decided, since we were going to be out in the cold weather we may as well catch the sunset over the city. I had been wanting to revisit my last shoot from the Port of Oakland where I shot my last time lapse of the Bay Bridge lights. This time my focus was to obtain a really good high quality wide panorama shot for large format print and reproduction. I did however capture a time lapse of the sunset and city lights as well. It’s hard not to, as it has become fairly easy for me with my 7D and 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. I’ve shot so many time lapses with that combo, it only takes a few minutes to setup.
Magic hour over the city only lasts for a few minutes, and I found it very challenging to capture a full panoramic set of the city with a long enough exposure at a narrow enough aperture (f/8 or smaller). This was due primarily to the amount of the disturbance on the water from boats, ferries and large cargo ships. While you might see a few minutes of calm, they are punctuated by wakes, shadows of moving vessels and light streaks. My frustrations were only compounded by the fact that I decided to use my EF 2x Extender III on the 70-200mm f/2.8. I chose the wrong time to experiment. Under anything other than perfect lighting conditions you will find it exceedingly difficult to use any lens with the 2X extender III. As a result, I missed easily half of my photo opportunities. Below are some panoramic shots I managed to salvage. The detail is pretty impressive – you can see inside offices and hallways in all those buildings you see. The full res compressed JPEG is just under 200MB and the master GIMP file is 1GB (1000MB).
We shot through the sunset till about 9pm then we packed up and headed out to treasure island to scout for a good angle on the action. I have never seen this many photographers and enthusiasts in one place. The whole island was crawling with people like me. Even in the seemingly remote bushes along back roads. We finally settled on the waterfront as the best vantage point. Fireworks are a challenge to shoot! This was my first time shooting fireworks and nothing could have prepared me for it. Below is a collection of some of the highlights. Overall I think it was a success. There are a few things I would’ve done differently now. Your feedback would be highly appreciated.
I was also able to capture a time lapse of the fireworks. The entire show lasted about 13minutes. It was a spectacular affair. If you missed it, the time lapse compilation below should help you enjoy the experience in a matter of seconds. My new years gift to you. I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!