Brunei Darussalam


On the last night of Chinese New Year 2009, the question I asked myself wasn’t whether I was going to use additional lighting when we lit the firecrackers but how many. My dad, the torch bearer, wasn’t going to wait for my decision so I quickly put together one light and a couple of Pocket Wizards into the mix and we had lift off. If you believe in coincidences, you’ll be delighted to know we had a full moon too just as we did last year.


The additional of a directional strobe made this moody event significantly dramatic. I shot this on the EOS 20D using EFS 10-22mm ultra wide angle lens so you can imagine how near I was—too near for comfort. Hope you guys like this shot!


As I was going through the images, I noticed the smoke rings and thought it’s fascinating to share. So far I had only seen rings made by cigarette smokers and never crossed my mind that they are possible at such high velocity. The backlight from the flash seems to have made it a lot obvious.



  1. Very simple reason really. The 5D is my working camera while the 20D is retired though fully functional. Would you risk your bread-and-butter equipment knowing the risks of shooting so close to the explosive action. Though the 20D survived, I was concerned for my personal health and held my breath for as long as I could—the amount of toxic smoke inhalation cannot be good.

    On the other hand, if a client hires me for this shoot I would use the 5D if client demands the highest image quality (IQ) and this would not be negotiable considering it’s fairly obvious when choosing between 21MP and 8MP. Some risks are assumed.

    Also, the 20D shoots at 5 frames per second while the 5DII does only 3.9 fps. The additional fps would mean getting or losing that decisive moment.


  2. Nicholas It’s definitely just you because without the flash, the subject would be shrouded in complete darkness! Hehe 😛


    You nailed the shutter speed and exposure with that one!

    Thanks and welcome to Shimworld! Unlike last year, we had two long strings of firecrackers so what I didn’t get right the first time, I had a second chance. Though they tend to burn for a couple of minutes, each second of every shot taken seems to vary a great deal in detail and what mattered to me was the explosive moments when huge flames could be frozen at 5fps.


  3. Well, they are pretty cool. Never expected to see how these rings are formed by high velocity crackers unless those happened to be the lazy ones that didn’t completely detonate.


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