Small town fireworks

July 6, 2010

No, literally.  Well, okay, 36,000 people isn’t a tiny hamlet.  Still, Duncanville, Texas, is a small town in many ways.

Nice fireworks show, nothing super spectacular.  But enough for me to experiment with the digital SLR on capturing images.  Lessons learned:  Yes, the tripod is a must; a “cable release” is essential, too; to get good color, smaller aperture settings work best; exposures over a second work best.

Duncanville, Texas, Fireworks, July 4, 2010 - Big blue blossom

Duncanville fireworks - black hole at the center of a galaxy

Duncanville fireworks - a colored crown

Duncanville fireworks - a blue aster

Duncanville fireworks - four blossoms

Duncanville fireworks - were they trying to portray Cthulu?

Duncanville fireworks - multicolor burst

These are a few of the many shots I took — more successful than in past years (why didn’t I think of the tripod before?).  Generally these are the most successful fireworks shots I’ve taken since that old Kodak Hawkeye FlashFun  — was it that long ago?  —  at the Idaho Centennial.

I wonder where those pictures are now?

The idea is to get this down to where I can set up the camera and take shots while smiling at Kathryn, whose birthday is July 4, and who thinks fireworks are for watching, forget about the hassle of photography.  She’s probably right.

Fireworks in Washington, D.C.

July 6, 2009

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House on July 4, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House on July 4, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) (White House caption)

July 4 in Washington was always a lot of fun, and I always found myself without the right film or the right lens, or knowledge about how to make the exposure work.  Several times I tried to get good shots of the fireworks from the Capitol lawn — no success.  Once we walked the Mall and sat under the fireworks going off, near the Lincoln Memorial (Kathryn won’t let me forget that one).  Bad angle for photos, and for viewing.  Once I tried from the Virginia side of the Potomac.  Not a single good shot.

One of the great joys of electronic photography is getting more of these kinds of shots.

Still, this photograph shows great skill on Souza’s part — lens selection, exposure, and composition come together just right.

Some restrictions apply to use of this photograph.  See notes here.

Happy birthday, Kathryn!

July 4, 2009

Fireworks in Texas - supposedly in Addison, but I cant figure where

Fireworks in Texas - supposedly in Addison, but I can't figure where

I used to tell the kids their mother was so beloved that the town set off fireworks every year on her birthday.  They probably didn’t believe the cause, but the town did, indeed, set off fireworks on her birthday.  I don’t always do the best planning, but at least I don’t ever forget Kathryn’s birthday — I cannot forget it.

We saw a lot of great displays on the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., and a fantastic show one year out on the water in Baltimore’s harbor, right over Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write his now-famous poem.  One year with brother Wes and his wife, Momie, we watched bluebirds all day, and then stayed for the fireworks at the Yorktown Battlefield, where Cornwallis was cut off by George Washington and the Continental Army with a grand assist from the French fleet.

We’ve seen great shows in Dallas, a bunch of shows in Duncanville, Texas, and Ogden, Utah, and we saw a part of a show in Addison, Texas, before the rain and wind shut it down (no, I can’t figure out where that photo came from, either) — and that doesn’t count all those shows before we met.  New York City, Hyde Park, from the parking lot of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City, overlooking Liberty Park, Derks Field, and a dozen other displays across the valley; from Wahkara Ridge, high up in Payson Canyon, catching the displays from Payson, Springville, Spanish Fork and Provo, Utah; and right there in Cougar Stadium in Provo.  Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, upper New York State, and probably a few other places we’ve forgotten about.  Great fireworks displays every one.

Last year we camped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah on the Fourth of July — no gunpowder fireworks, just the Milky Way and the most spectacular stars you can imagine, perched on 80-foot sand dunes where voices carried 150 yards with no shouting.  The decision not to drive back into Kanab for their show was a good idea.

This year?  Heck, we’ve already had some fireworks — Kathryn’s mother made a quick trip to an emergency room Friday, and we’ve had to rejuggle the dinner arrangements just a bit for tomorrow.  But the knockwursts and bratwursts from Kuby’s are in the refrigerator; the potato salad’s halfway done.  The beans will cook up most of the morning.  The flags will wave from their new poles.

The kids are home.  Buddy the border setter has his sedatives, so maybe the illegal fireworks around the neighborhood won’t make him a total wreck; and we can choose between a Grucci show at the Cotton Bowl or the local fireworks two miles away — or maybe the fireworks at the U.S. Capitol again, this time on PBS, with a glass of champagne.

The nation may not be setting off all those fireworks just for you, Kathryn, but they should be — and the coincidence can’t be explained except by divine intervention, eh?  Happy birthday, sweetie!

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