Fire in the Sky

Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale

It was a magic night under the fire in the sky. Last night we watched the fireworks competition of the 2019 Pyronale on the Maifeld at the steps of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. And I took my PEN-F and tried to capture some of its splendor.

Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale

I never really photographed firework before, but it was something I always wanted to do. The opportunity came last night, when we visited the Pyronale fireworks competition in Berlin, which takes place annually on the grounds of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. On two days, six professional fireworks companies, each from another country, face off in a competition where each team has to shoot a show consisting of three elements – color display without music, interpretation of a mandatory music element and then a presentation to three pieces from a classical music pool. Each show lasts about 15 minutes. And it was totally awesome.

Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale

To capture the glory, I brought my Olympus PEN-F and my mZuiko 12mm f/2. A combo small enough to be allowed inside the shooting grounds (professional cameras and tripods are prohibited). I also brought my little beanbag to put the camera on and aim it up at the sky in a stabilized way.

Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale

The PEN-F has a shooting mode called “Live Composite”. I select the aperture (in this case f/6.3) and the ISO (in this case my lowest which is 200). I control the camera via my Olympus iPhone app. Live Composite is a mode where the camera essentially shoots a dark frame and then at .5 second intervals (you can select intervals up to 60 secs but for the fireworks I used .5 and 1 second intervals) adds another frame and blends it over the frames already taken. On my iPhone display (as well as on the camera’s LCD screen, if I use cable release or press the shutter myself) you see the image develop, getting brighter and brighter. When you are satisfied with what you see, you simply press the shutter a second time and the image is saved. A really cool feature, that has it’s strength in night photography.

Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale

The trick was not to overdo it! If you kept the shutter open too long, the firework plums overlayed each other too much. This resulted in a muddy, blown out light mix. But 45 minutes of showtime gave me enough time to practice shooting the fire in the sky.

Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale
Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale
Fireworks at Berlin Pyronale

I was really happy with the results of my first ever real attempt at capturing a fireworks. I took plenty photographs last night and still need to sort through them. The images in this post were just some quick edits that caught my eye last night importing into LR.

Post processing in Adobe Lightroom CC Classic 

If you want to go out shooting on the weekend and are still looking for tips and inspirations around photography, check out my free Learning Center.

Have a great Sunday!


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A Travel Night full of Magic

The Classic Seattle Night Shots

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Instant Inspiration (10) – Nocturnal Skyline

59 thoughts on “Fire in the Sky

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  1. I just saw this today. Beautiful shots. I found a bunch of your posts in my Spam folder. Not sure why this happened but hopefully it won’t happen again. Carol

  2. Gorgeous as always and what amazing results considering it was your first time shooting fireworks. But did I really expected anything less than brilliant? Nah I don’t think so. Hugs my friend, hope to connect soon.

    1. Thanks, my friend, it means so much! Finishing our reno project today, then a weekend trip to Genoa, than all the craziness should stop and things should be back to normal 🙂 Will reach out! Hugs! Marcus

  3. Great shots. My favourites are the ones including silhouettes. I agree with a previous comment that it’s the photographer and not the camera that really matters. I’ve successfully photographed Chinese New Year firework displays using a Lomo as well as an old Pentax.

    1. Thanks, Nikita, appreciate your comment so much! I’m glad you like the one with the silhouettes, it’s something that you typically don’t get to see. But I’m a street shooter after all 😉 Fireworks with a Lomo, that should look cool! Marcus

    1. Thanks, Allan, so true. The camera restrictions in these events (sporting/entertainment) drive me crazy. The heck, we just want to capture what we see for the pure joy and for us, not to make money from it. And even today’s cell phone cameras are “professional” instruments, if you know how to use them properly….

      1. The (very laid back) photo club here in town has a number of strident cell phone camera advocates. Me? I love gear too much (and the ability to change aperture)…

  4. Amazing captures! I cannot believe that these are the first fireworks you’ve shot, as it looks like you have spent a lifetime photographing them 🙂

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