Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fireworks — July 2006

In honor of Independence Day, I'm posting an older image of some fireworks. This shot uses a combination of long exposure and light painting. I promise, it's a single capture, not a composited image.
I was thinking last night (Wednesday). I've probably shot fireworks every year for at least the past 20 years. Sometimes, shooting more than one community display a year.
And they haven't all been on or around the Fourth of July. One of my favorites was a winter carnival at Lake Okoboji in northern Iowa. The fireworks were shot from a barge on the frozen lake. Literally hundreds of cars were lined up on the ice and a massive Christmas Tree bonfire was burning and a hot air balloon was set up, blasting its burners to make it glow.
But I digress. Shooting fireworks is really pretty simple. It's honestly a matter of point the camera and go. The trick is timing, how long you leave the shutter open.
This particular image is two or three bursts (I honestly can't remember, but I think two). As the camera was capturing the bursts of the fireworks, I was walking around the fenced-in area surrounding the observatory, firing off a hand-held strobe to define the front of the building.
I've played with light painting on and off for a few years. This was the first time I'd tried it on this scale, though. I was pleased with the results.
And that's really why I enjoy photography. I get a rush from being presented with a situation, going in to it with no preconceptions of exactly what I'm going to do beyond a very basic plan, and being able to come away with an image like this.
The creative process settles my nerves. It can be frustrating at time, particularly when I was shooting film, not knowing if the images I'm making are going to work. Digital made it much easier. Now, I get instantaneous feed-back from the camera and can adjust what I'm doing if it's not working out the way I wanted.
I have to admit, though. I do miss that sense of mystery from shooting film, never knowing if I had the images I thought I did, that I needed, until the film was processed.
But, as I get older, I find I can live without the mystery. It's being replaced with the sense of satisfaction I receive when my plans work.

No comments: