Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Belated Fourth of July!

I have always loved the 4th of July. Its probably a combination of any number of elements surrounding the holiday such as warm summer nights, a care-free spirit, family and friends, grilling out, and, let's not forget, explosives!

I have always been fascinated by fireworks. Admittedly, I will give the text a friend of mine sent me as I watched our local show a small acknowledgment, "Somebody has to say it: fireworks are boring." They certainly can be repetitive if you are only watching for a "show". I find however, I have become taken with the entire experience. I love sitting close and feeling the impact of an exploding shell resonate in my chest. The people with whom you watch them can also make all the difference in the world. This year I had perhaps my best firework experience to date.

The Girl and I parked my car just above the dam of the lake where they put on the show around 11am. We then were dropped off around 7pm, walked into the mexican restaurant located at the corner of the overlook, had margaritas, and by 8pm were relaxing atop my vehicle surveying the many people crowding in attempting to find seating. At 9:15ish, the show began and it was perfect. Just myself and the Girl, well, and a couple cameras...

The biggest draw I have to fireworks these days, (now that I am no longer building launchers out of PVC and warring with my friends) is their inherent photogenic nature. Fireworks were made to be photographed! This year, I tried something a little different than last. Last year, I set up two cameras: one with a wide angle and the other with an 80-200mm tele. This year I just took one DSLR, mounted the wide angle 17-35mm a few times for some wide shots, but more often used the Tamron SP 180mm f/2.5 63B. I would follow the dimly lit shells on their way up after being launched and then snap a couple shots just as they exploded! I have to say, I am very pleased with the results.

Just about all of these images were made at ISO 3200 with the Nikon D700. Exposure was 1/250 wide open (f/2.5) with that Tamron SP 180mm. Due to the contrasty nature of fireworks, I have found a fair amount of fringing since I was shooting wide open, but with fireworks, CA actually seems to be rather insignificant on the end result. Fireworks, in my opinion, can leave a lot of room for interpretation.

Happy 4th of July!

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