Long distance fireworks

Every New Year’s Eve there’s a beautiful fireworks from the London Eye. And every year there’s are hundred of thousands of people travelling into the city to view it (around 250,000 this year). Getting a good place with a decent view requires arriving hours in advance. The chances of getting sufficient space to set up a tripod, and not have is pushed over and trampled upon, are as good as the proverbial snowball’s chance, when tied to an 8-pound mortar and launched high above the city. Slim to slimy non-existant, that is.

Fireworks image

3 discs

At the Thames Festival back in September, Steve found a great spot on a support for Waterloo Bridge, so I already have a set of fireworks pictures taken fairly close to the action, and fancied something different for new year, so I came up with the idea of long-distance fireworks pictures. It would mean not mingling with the front-row crowd, and it would give a different kind of picture. So I local people on flickr and facebook for help coming up with a good location, and spent Saturday afternoon driving around to check the actual view from various vantage points. Eventually I ended up Greenwich where a local gentleman told that all the locals usually gather at The Point which offers a brilliant view of London.

Fireworks picture

Purples and yellow

I got there around a quarter to 11, at which time there was just two other people. At 11:30 the area was packed. There were plenty of clouds and the occasional drizzle, but thankfully it stayed dry during the fireworks display.

Fireworks image

Green

The idea of creating a panorama wasn’t very well thought through. The sky, and the smoke, constantly changed colour depending on the fireworks going off right at the moment. As can be seen on the images, one second everything was green, and the next it was all blood red. Fortunately I also took some shots before the fireworks kicked off, so when I got home, I managed to combine 6 into a wide-angle shot and overlay some of the others to add the location specific fireworks. But seeing that the entire view could be included in a 70mm shot, I should simply have shot a series of that view instead. Oh well, you live and you learn.

Fireworks image

Red

The close-up shots of the fireworks are 3,000 x 2,000 crops from a 200mm shot, so had I had the time (which I didn’t), they could have been shot in higher resolution with a tele converter.

The London Eye is just over 8 km (5 miles) away from The Point as the crows flie, and the yellow arch visible to the right of The Eye is Wembley Stadium, 21 km (14 miles) away.

The city-lights needed 20 seconds at f/18, but 20 seconds at this distance was far too much for most of the fireworks and caused them to white-out completely. I ended up sacrificing detail in the buildings and shot a lot of the pictures with a shuttertimes between 4 and 8 seconds.

Panorama picture of fireworks over London

Panorama of 6 images (view equivalent to a 70mm lense) (click for hi-res version)

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