Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Planning for the 4th of July Fireworks

What's the most crucial element for a successful fireworks photo on the 4th of July (other than the actual fireworks)?

Getting there early & saving your spot?
A good tripod?
Shooting a couple test frames to ensure your exposure is correct?

While all these are good & very important, they don't quite carry the weight of the most crucial step to planning a great fireworks photo.

The most important part of a great fireworks outing , is knowing where the fireworks are. That's the step that Derick, Tom & I will be making sure is at the top of our lists next year. You see, we did everything else right. Tom drove down to the Long Beach Harbor the night before to scout the area & shoot a couple of test frames. We arrived about 3 hours early on the 4th and saved our spots, with the Queen Mary directly across the harbor from us. We set up, determined our compositions & exposures and even tested a few frames to improve our shots.

All it took was 3 seconds and we realized all our planning failed. When the fireworks show started we discovered we were facing the wrong way! What happened next was a scene right out of 3 Stooges. We all said "D'oh" and tried to move our tripods to a better location. Only thing was we had no room to maneuver and had 3 tripods almost on top of each other. As it turned out we had to duck & lean out of each other's way to shoot. Tom went high & extended his 'pod fully. I went low and in the corner. Poor Derick, well he was caught in the middle. I remember thinking this isn't what we planned for. And it wasn't. We did our best in the situation, but when all was said and done, something Derick said kept ringing in my ears... "There's always next year."

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