While many local fireworks displays are being cancelled for July 4th due to the pandemic, a local radio station teamed up with the mall operator and a fireworks manufacturer to offer a free display last Friday night. They shot them over the short-season minor league baseball stadium.
They decided to comply with general guidelines about distancing by spacing cars out every other spot and asking people to either watch the display from inside their vehicles, or to sit in front of the vehicles and not to mingle with other spectators. Masks were required anytime you were outside your vehicle.
I got there early, and ended up with an absolutely perfect spot to shoot from, since the stadium logo was clearly visible and centered right under where the fireworks would be.
I decided to perform what would either be a bold experiment or a complete dud and shot them with my new tilt-shift lens, a Nikon 24mm Nikkor f/3.5 D PC-E ED modified with tilt-shift along the same axis.
Before the fireworks, this was my favorite photo taken with that lens:
I love extra depth the focal plane gets with this lens, and it seemed like a fun thing to try with fireworks. The issue is that it works best when there are features on either side of your subject. When the subject is by itself in the middle and everything around it is flat, the effect of the tilt-shift is barely present.
Tl;dr I think the fireworks turned out great, even though the tilt-shift effect was minimal.
P.S. There were only two constants in my exposure settings: ISO 250 and f/22. I messed around a lot with the shutter speed, since these fireworks weren’t set off at regular intervals. I tried long exposures of 20-30 seconds, but the ISO was way too high for that, and every one of those ended up overexposed and too busy. I also tried as little as 2 seconds for faster bursts, of which there were several before the grand finale. In general, I ended up happiest in the 4-5 second range.
Last year, for my first fireworks shots with a proper camera, I used an ND+8 filter on my 28-80 zoom lens. I have not bought a filter set yet for the 24mm tilt-shift. It has a 77mm filter thread size, which is far larger than any of the other lenses I own, and all of my filters are <60mm. As a result, I had to close the aperture far more than I had previously.