Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Crackle and BAM!

To many, the fourth just wouldn't be the perfect celebration unless we had some fireworks! You know, the picnic with hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon and of course ants!! 

I had, what I thought was a major run in with a fire cracker when I was in 6th grade. My sisters and I made our way down to a local fire works stand and after pooling our pennies and managed to buy a package of "black jacks" and a punk. (The little item that kept on burning just enough to light our crackers without having to relight matches.) Of course our parents didn't know and certainly wouldn't have approved.

Being the oldest of 3 girls, I was the brave one. "you do it!!" I lit the first and tossed it so fast that it didn't hold the light. "You have to let it catch fire before you toss it!" my younger sister scolded... yet still letting me do the "work." So I held it, lit it and pulled my hand back to give it a grand toss when BAM!!!! it went off in my hand, right next to my ear! 

We all screamed and dropped the rest of the fire crackers and ran crying all the way home. It was about a mile. My mother was out to the store when we arrived home and still we were all in tears from the fright. Partially of the scare, a lot from the pain in my hand (blackened and singed), and no hearing in my right ear! But my biggest fear was that my mother would find out!  It was a story we held secret for decades and still to this day I have ringing in my ear. Yet every fourth of July I have a sweet memory of an adventure that was a little on the sinister side for three young girls who seldom, if ever, broke the rules.

Because you might be making plans to photograph some Fireworks display I thought I would share some quick tips on how to take some great shots!!

5 Tips for Fun Fireworks Photos

1- Use a tri-pod (or some stationary spot to prop your camera like the top of your car)

2- Use a cable release if you have one

3- Don’t just photograph the fireworks. Look at your surroundings and see what else you can include in the photo. People? Bridges? A significant landmark? Additional elements and identifiable scenery in the frame will add a lot of depth to your image.

4- Shoot in “manual” mode. Use a low ISO, set your aperture somewhere in the middle (usually between f/8 and f/16) and set your shutter speed to “bulb”. Then, as the fireworks go off, hold the shutter open for 5-10 seconds. Try a few different settings within the first minute of the show to get a good feel for the light and speed of the fireworks. Most displays last about 20 minutes so you have time to experiment. (The overall exposure values are going to vary depending on the amount of ambient light/fireworks/etc; there’s really no steadfast formula.)

5- Get creative! Getting good firework photographs consists of some planning, a lot of experimentation and a little bit of luck – there’s no way to predict what you are going to get! Just have fun with it and don’t take it too seriously; you’ll most likely end up having a really good time and will probably go home with some great photos, too.

Or a great article about shooting the works is HERE

I love our country! I feel very blessed to live in a place were are free.  The above photo was taken last year when we still had some snow in the mountains in July here in Utah! This year is just HOT! (but that's another blog post ha ha!)

Enjoy the fourth!  Don't blow up any fingers or ears! Take some fun,  fabulous,  photos (a little alliteration!)


PS! Remember to share your WATER photos with us in our Flickr pool


Dotti said...

Happy 4th of July, Life Sisters and FOL Family! Yes, we include fireworks in our plans every year. In our community they're always ON the 4th and I always take pictures. I'm all set to go, remote and tripod at the ready. An, oh yes, the camera. It's so dry this year and I haven't decided what to do about the "little" fireworks we usually set off for our granddaughter and her friends while we're waiting for the "big" fireworks. A lot of communities have banned personal fireworks because it's so dry.

Fun post, Claudia --- glad your fingers and ear are okay after all these years!


Carol said...

A Mom's nightmare! What are those kids doing while I'm at the store, work etc! I'm glad your poor little ear is OK - not to mention your hand!
Anyway..... thanks so much for the lesson on firework photography - I had looked up an article yesterday, and hadn't had time to read it yet. I think I'll give it a shot (literally)! Fun post !

Jeanne said...

Your story made me laugh remembering one of my own past experiences, and especially funny keeping it from your parents. My episode involved a broken arm which my mother found out about from the gym teacher at school. Sure she was not too happy. Your photos here are great, and thanks for the helpful advice on the fireworks photography. Planning to try this today so was glad to read your post. Have a wonderful 4th

terriporter said...

The 4th of July always makes me wish I lived in a small town where there are picnics and fireworks to celebrate the day. Here all the venues that do fireworks displays are so maddeningly crowded and it is just too hot. It is also very dry here and personal fireworks are banned. But I have fond memories of spending this time of year in San Diego while my boys were growing up and all we had to do was walk down to the corner from the condo where we stayed to watch the fireworks show from the nearby Del Mar Racetrack. Close by, no crowds and beautifully cool weather. Love your photo, Claudia, of the flags with the snow-dusted mountains in the background. Happy 4th everyone!

Linda said...

Funny how your younger sister was an "expert" with fire crackers! The oldest is always the fall guy!
Thanks for sharing the info about taking pictures of fireworks! It's not as easy as it seems! Your pictures are so pretty! Hopefully I'll be able to get some this year!
Have a great 4th!


gina said...

Great post for Independence Day, Claudia! You were an adventurous little girl, but I guess you stayed away from fireworks after that experience. Thanks for your tips on fireworks, very helpful. I love your last shot!

Kim Stevens said...

I was just looking through my firework photos last year, had no idea what I was doing but I must have done something right as I did most of what you said....but I didn't set speed to "bulb", I'll try that. And yikes on the fireworks story . . .great post and Happy fourth to all! xo

Cathy H. said...

Happy 4th of July to each of you! We're spending a quiet day at home. The grandkids are coming in two days and then we'll clebrate and have fun! No fireworks for us this year. Other than a big show on the river, fireworks have been banned due to high fire conditions! I ususally avoid the big show, too many people for me! I'll keep your suggestions for next year, maybe it won't be so dry!

Deanna said...

Happy 4th everyone...what a grand way to celebrate our country's birthday. Claudia, perfect post for the holiday and such great tips on fireworks photos. Our holiday fireworks are over already. Many communities opted to have the weekend for celebrating and our town shot off their fireworks last night. But it is 100 degrees here today, so I think this chickie is staying indoors today!! I love that shot of the flags with the mountains, just a beautiful image!!

AFishGirl said...

Happy 4th, y'all. That was a great post. Hot here too. Drinking iced tea and saying cheers to all of you from sunny Cape Breton.

heyjudephotography said...

Great firework images Claudia. And the photo with the flags and the snow capped mountains.....ahhhh. Lovely. So glad you still have a hand and an ear after your firecracker fiasco! I'm glad you just photograph them from afar now. Happy Fourth! (even though it's almost over at this point)

radish38 said...

Stephanie, you have been in my Big Picture Classes, so I have seen your work. I wish I had seen your tips yesterday afternoon.

Leigh said...

Great tips Claudia! Hope everyone had a fabulous 4th!

stephmull said...

Thanks so much for the fireworks tips! We had an awesome display last night. I didn't get a chance to shoot any though, because my littlest was clinging to me as tight as could be (he was a wee bit scared by all the noise)!

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