Another great 4th of July is now in the books. My wife and I were again lucky enough to watch the Chicago fireworks over Navy Pier from a high rise on Lake Shore Drive. It's a large building of condominiums with a private deck on the 35th floor - a perfect place to watch the show. I took a few exposures during magic hour to get everything set, that way all I had to worry about was exposure time. I found ISO 100 was too low, so I quickly bumped it to 400 at f/10, shooting bursts between 5 and 10 seconds. This was very early in the show, because the smoke quickly got overwhelming and headed straight towards us.
After the Navy Pier fireworks were over we were treated to an amazing view out west - we got to see all the west side and suburban fireworks, dozens of them all going off at once, from horizon to horizon. I can only imagine what the view would have been like from an airplane or helicopter.
The next day we drove down to Indiana for a relaxing weekend with the family. After a day at the beach and lots of grilled food, we pulled out the fireworks for a personal show in the back yard. It was tricky as I wasn't sure exactly where they would go off, or how long they would go for, so I was again in Bulb mode, essentially guessing my exposures each time. A few rain drops on the lens added some fun distortion to some of the photos, and I think this was my favorite.
After the large ones were shot off it was time for some roman candles and a little fun for the kids. Here is a prime example of almost exactly what I had in my mind working out as planned...with a lot of hard work. When I saw the first one lit I knew I wanted one of the kids faces light up by the firework from coming out of their hand, problem was it was almost pitch black so I had to manually focus while they were lighting the first few off. Once I locked in focus I had to time a 1/30th second shot right after the sparks shot out and briefly light the scene. It took quite a few attempts but I finally captured this.
I absolutely love this photo, but the feeling of showing her parents that shot was even better. That's what I love about candid portraiture, capturing that special moment that takes someones breath away when they see it. We had quite a few moments like that this weekend, but this one still makes me smile every time I see it. Happy 4th of July everyone.