On our first 4th July in the Seattle area, we watched fireworks from Kirkland. In the distance we could see the fireworks over Lake Union and we figured at some point we should make the effort to go and see them more directly. We did so this year. We based ourselves in Gas Works Park at the north end of the lake and we had a great vantage point for enjoying them. I took the camera along because the nice thing for me about fireworks is that I can enjoy them and shoot at the same time courtesy of the cable release.
My normal result with fireworks is that I get a lot of shots that are just not that special and a few that I really like. For some reason with this display, I had a far higher hit rate. I am not sure whether it is a function of their sequencing of the fireworks or just good luck but running through the shots I found so many I was pleased with. I won’t bore you with tons of shots but here are a few samples of what was a fantastic display. The coordination with music was great and my only gripe was that the finale was put to a piece that rather peters out instead of having a crashing ending. This seems to be more appropriate to fireworks. However, a minor gripe and a very impressive display.
Last year we were living in Kirkland when July 4th came around. We checked out the fireworks in the town and I took the camera along. Unfortunately, we picked a place to sit in the park that meant the fireworks were behind a tree so I didn’t get any pictures that I was happy with. This year we have moved a little up the lake so we decided to try out the fireworks in Kenmore.
We turned up later in the evening and the park was busy with lots of families out enjoying the warm evening and waiting for the display. We found a spot down near the water that seemed pretty convenient and set up. I wasn’t too bothered about shots but will take them anyway since it is easy to do while enjoying the display. We had some people in front of us that I thought might make good silhouettes in the shots too.
The display started at just after 10pm and lasted about twenty minutes. They were launching from the pier in Log Boom Park so the fireworks were out over the lake. The team had choreographed a great performance and everyone seemed to be pleased. These are a few of the shots I got while enjoying the show.
The weekend I was in Madras was the weekend that the Airshow of the Cascades was scheduled. The show was supposed to be a two day affair. An evening show was planned for the Friday evening and the Saturday was supposed to be a day show. Friday went ahead as planned. There was a great crowd attending the flying with the aircraft using pyrotechnics to highlight themselves in the dark.
At the end of the evening, they wrapped up with a fireworks display which provided a nice conclusion for the evening. Sadly, Saturday dawned with nice skies but incredibly strong winds. The hope was that the winds would abate in the afternoon but, unfortunately, that did not work out and they canceled the show. These shots were a few that I took when there was something to watch. I am sorry for the organizers that so much effort goes into a show that doesn’t end up happening. I hope the lack of revenue will not have a negative impact on future shows.
The timing of this post is probably unexpected. However, I am deliberately doing this since, if I had posted at the time, it would have looked like a lot of similar material from everyone else. Why? Fourth of July fireworks, that’s why. We spent the weekend up in Sonoma over the weekend of the holiday. Sonoma has a nice town fireworks display. It lasts quite a long time with the whole display running nearly half an hour. Part of this is by pacing the show. It is a steady stream of rockets but not too fast. However, at the end, they suddenly go nuts and fire off everything that is left in a mad fury!
As is my usual thing with fireworks, I set up the camera, hold the cable release and then fire away while enjoying the display without looking through the viewfinder at all. I did tweak things once with a change in orientation as a result of the display getting larger than I had expected. However, I shoot almost without thinking about it. Here are some of the nicer shots I got. Nothing of the grand finale since that was so crazy it just turned the images into white expanses in the area of the explosions.
We took a trip to Indiana which was primarily based around the visit to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center as I shall be posting about here at some point. While the center is near Terre Haute, we decided to stay in Indianapolis. We have been to Indy before and had a great time as well as staying at a nice hotel. That trip got a write up here if you are interested. This time it was the 4th of July and the city was due to have a firework display so we thought that might be a good add on to the trip.
Originally, we had looked up the park where we could view the fireworks. There were supposed to be a number of things going on in the park and it was not a long walk from the hotel so we had figured on taking some chairs and heading there. However, the weather forecast was looking a little like a storm might roll in. This made us wonder whether a change in plans might be in order.
Our decision was made easier when we checked in and found we had a 32nd floor room overlooking the downtown. Now we could watch the fireworks from the comfort of our hotel room and, if it rained, we would be fine. As it happened, it didn’t rain. However, our choice proved to have an additional benefit. Not only did we see the main display, there were many displays happening all around the city. From our vantage point, we could see them all. We sat by the window and watched fireworks close by and far off but going off all evening. It was great. I did shoot the fireworks but my approach is always to fire a cable release while just watching the display. Consequently, I primarily get to enjoy the display but also, hopefully, get some shots at the same time.
Every year in the run up to Christmas, the traders on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago have a parade to get the shoppers interested. The parade has a strong Disney theme to it and attracts large numbers of families with small kids. You might be surprised to know this is not a big deal to me. However, they do finish it off with a fireworks display on the Chicago River and that is something I am happy to see.
Finding a spot to watch them from is something that is not so easy since a huge number of people are already there to see the parade. I had intended to stand on the Wabash Avenue bridge which provides a good view along the river to the display. However, that was not possible since the bridge was full of people looking at the parade, even though it was a long way away. However, dropping down to the river level provided a spot that did not give a good view of the parade but was absolutely fine for the fireworks.
I got set up with two cameras, one for stills and another for video. Rather than take a full tripod setup, I took a couple of Gorillapods to mount on to the railings along the river. This proved to be a good setup. It was flexible, easy to carry and didn’t get in anyone else’s way. One downside is that a tripod does tend to act as a bit of a deterrent to passers by. This setup seemed to encourage people to bring their kids close to my stuff so I had to make sure the kids kept their hands to themselves since their parents didn’t seem bothered about what they were up to.
Chicago has traditionally held a pretty impressive fireworks display to celebrate the 4th of July. Since I have lived here, the fireworks have been let off a day early on the 3rd. While I have never bothered to find out why, I have always assumed it was because they wanted a ton of people to come and see them and this they could do and still see their own local town displays on the 4th. I guess it worked because up to 2 million people would show up to watch.
Last year, with the city feeling a bit hard up for cash, they did away with the big display and had three smaller displays spread out along the lakefront. This year, no display at all. I guess it isn’t the cost of the display that is the issue. The cost of dealing with 2 million people is a little bit more of an issue!
All is not lost, though. Navy Pier holds firework displays every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the summer so one more is not a big deal for them. Consequently, we took a stroll out to the lake to watch the display. It was a nice show. Not a stunning display like some I have seen but I’m not complaining. It still had a lot of people showing up to watch but nothing like the normal event. It was on the 4th as well.
I like taking pictures of fireworks but I have found I like the shots a lot more if there is some context to them. I am not a big fan of shots that just have the explosion filling the frame. With a display out over the lake, my options were relatively limited. The big Chicago displays are over the harbor and, if you watch from the planetarium, you have the skyline as part of the shot. That certainly is worthwhile.
I don’t put a lot of effort in to the shots. I set up the camera as I want the frame to be making some guesses about how big the larger blooms will be. Then I hold the cable release and have fun watching the display. I can trigger the shots (bulb mode) as I think looks good without distracting myself from having fun enjoying the show. Sometimes they are better than others but anything is just a nice side benefit from a good display.
As an aside, if you notice something in the skies, an airship was up watching the display too. That is what you may see blurred out in some of the shots.