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Excessive, but you get the point.

Typically for smaller firework shows or shooting fireworks off at home you’re going to run into having only one or two fireworks in a shot. Other times for larger shows you might run into that problem as the smoke builds up. Otherwise instead of flooding Facebook with 30 pictures you’d just like to have one photo that has a few of the best fireworks.

Best part of this? If you took your photos right it’s super easy to do as well.

normalThere is a function in Photoshop called blend modes. Typically this is how one layer effects the layers under it. In this case we need the brighter part of the photo to stay but to get rid of the darker background. This is done with lighten. Lighten takes whatever it’s layer has that is brighter than the layers under it and displays only that information. It can be found by clicking the normal blend mode in the layers panel and scrolling down.

lightenIn a bit more of a basic example here is a white, 50% grey, and black firework. When turned to lighten blending mode on 30% grey the two darker colors disappear while the white stays. What we’re doing is the same to hide the background and only show the firework. 

While it’s commonly skipped over blending modes can do a lot to improve a photo if you put the time in to learn them. Multiply for example combines the active layer with the layer under it and multiplies the colors. This results in a added contrast and/or color change making things darker. This is useful for example when you’d like to effect contrast in a photo or lower exposure. Screen is it’s opposite adjusting colors to get their lightest between them making your photo lighter by multiplying the inverse of the color below. Useful for effecting exposure or dodging.  Click here for more info on blending modes in Photoshop.

As for a practical example. Take a photo you have that you like and want to add more fireworks to as below. Typically I start with an early one as you still get a bit of sky in your photo. Copy your extra firework to the photo. Then apply the lighten blend mode. And your done. As for fireworks that have a lighter background than their host you can adjust the shadows and blacks before hand and it will transfer over fine. 

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Once you get that down you can do something like below. This is actually 3 photos for a composite. One with a higher ISO and slower speed to get lit trees. A blank sky exposed correctly to level it out. And a decent firework overlaid as the subject with its background darkened significantly.  The same method as above with just a bit of cloning to remove any leaves that moved between the two shots. 

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 #mondaymorningshare - I want to see your failed experiments or favorite photos from the last week. GO TO http://photorec.tv/fb to share your fav image from the past week. Here's my #failedexperiment The US Capitol at Sunset. File this under because I could - a 2 minute exposure with the use of a NISI Filters 10-stop ND. I hoped I would get some interesting wispy movement in the clouds but nothing developed. Next I tried a 6 minute exposure (swipe to see it) and while there may be a little more movement in the clouds it certainly wasn't anything to get excited about. And while I often recommend very carefully shooting building and monuments as symmetrically as possible, I purposefully shot from right of center to avoid losing Ulysses S. Grant statue in the front of the capitol. *  Sony #A7RII and #Canon 2470mm with #NiSiFilters #10StopND
 I love traveling with other photographers on #mckaylive trips. Kari, a trip participant, noticed this line of trees and shared her perspective with me. I had glanced at them but hadn't noticed how nicely they lined up when standing at a certain spot #teacherbecomesthestudent :) We had a great day leaving behind the cherry blossom crowds for a much quieter walk around #HarpersFerryWV. And a visit to #BolivarHeights a much fought over hilltop during the civil war and the site of the largest surrender of Union troops - over 12,000 men surrendered to Stonewall Jackson. *  Captured with the #Panasonic #GH4 and #1235mm lens
 "Such a blunder sometimes it makes me wonder why I even bring the thunder" * The Jefferson Memorial might be my favorite. Jefferson's quotes inside, the circular structure surrounded by the columns, the fact that it is perched on a more organic, curving body of water. There is much to love here! Inside I chose to go wide with the 12mm Laowa to capture that awesome dome and offer a different perspective. * Captured with the #Sony #A7RII and @venuslaowa #12mm f/2.8 lens


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