America’s Independence Day (4th of July) is always filled with choices … go to a party, go to a BBQ or get to an iconic viewing platform for a fireworks display – all take some degree of committed effort of which this year, I had the desire, but little motivation to doing any of them for some strange reason. Not sure why. Hearing the bangs and booms from last nights fireworks display after the A’s game at the Oakland Coliseum – yes, it was heard quite clearly from the safety of my home some 20 minutes away, I wanted to photograph some sort of fireworks from an armchair position. This was just not going to happen.
So … go the Berkeley Marina? Oh no. That Frontage road would’ve been hellaciously crowded. How about the Marin Headlands for the Crissy Fields show? Oh no. That would’ve taken waaaay too much motivation and commitment, plus I was too late for that anyways. What about shooting across the Bay from TI? Oh no. I didn’t want brave the bridge traffic. Perhaps the Alameda County Fair fireworks spectacular? Oh no. Reading the planned road closures, I didn’t want anything to do with that area either!
Bah firebug, I might as well just stay home and wish for next years motivation. Then, a friend told me of a small show in Livermore. Oh yes. Perfect for my indecisiveness as this day wore on. It’s been years since I’ve been downtown (Livermore) and was pleasantly surprised how quaint it has become. A fair amount of folks were hanging out along the main part of town – certainly more than anticipated. As 9:30pm rolled around, it was about a 20 minute show shot from the top floor of the downtown parking garage.
Not the largest of displays, no huge flowering blooms or smily faces or heart shaped explosions, just a good ‘ol old school medium sized display that seemed to fit the venue and location perfectly. No clouds with a slight wind to carry the smoke away to ready the sky for the next set of explosions. Instead of the typical round balls shaped blooms, these were more the rocket style – like fancy (and much larger) roman candle bursts.
I first started out shooting with my film camera, shot 15 or so frames before switching to my trusty digital SLR. Mounting it on the tripod, manual focus set and untouched (from there), 64 ISO and Intervalometer attached and juiced up with the last setting to Bulb, it was just a matter of timing from there. Being more sprays than booms, it took a few frames to kinda’ get the handle of firing the shutter at the most opportune times to capture the falling projectiles and newly rocketed ones to create light trails in the sky. Fireworks can be shot many different ways, my camera settings were quite a bit different at the start and had to adjust to the current conditions (originally ISO 100, f8, 1/5″). You just have to recognize a few things to make refinements in the heat of the moment.