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I love the Fourth of July.  As someone who loves history, it is a holiday rife with importance historically.  As a patriotic American, I love the opportunity to celebrate the nation that I love so much.  And, of course, there’s the smell of grilling meat that is like ambrosia to the manly part of my soul.

And the fireworks.

Fireworks have always been my favorite part of the Fourth of July.  Whether it was sparklers, fountains, and red paper-wrapped Black Cat firecrackers or the professional shows that seem to take place in every town in America these days, I just love fireworks.  I sit in amazement that some simple paper or cardboard, a bit of wire or string, and some powder can create such beauty when combined with fire.  I am in awe of the professionals that design the shows we sit and gaze in wonder upon every year.  But, I think the more amazing thing is how long fireworks have been around.

Those seventh-century Chinese were really on to something.

This year as we considered our fireworks viewing strategy, my wife and remembered something about our photographic gear.  You see, our love of travel has strongly reinforced my wife’s love of photography.  We have been endeavoring to learn how to take better and more beautiful pictures.  To that end, my wife received for her birthday last year a Canon Digital SLR camera.  This was a quantum leap for us past the simple pint-and-shoots we were accustomed to, and as we learned about the camera and its capabilities our eyes were opened to new photographic opportunities.

I have also upgraded my camera to a more advanced digital point-and-shoot and have begun applying the concepts we have learned in training sessions on the SLR to my point-and-shoot where I can.  The Fourth of July offered us a unique opportunity to try something out on my camera that we had been looking to experiment with.

The Fireworks setting.

Yes, my camera has a setting designed to photograph fireworks.  I had seen the images some people had managed with this setting, shots that captured in a single still image the fullness of the bloom of a fireworks burst.  Start to finish.  The full experience frozen in time, its beauty there for you to enjoy whenever yo wish.

This, I decided, I had to do.

I learned something on the Fourth of July.  This is much harder than it seems.  The camera does its job.  It keeps its aperture open for a longer period to capture every instant of the burst start to finish.  It takes into account that you are shooting in the dark, but also realizes you are shooting something in the sky that is, in itself, light and leaves the flash off.  It is truly amazing.

The failure I found was entirely in the monkey holding the camera.  Trying to time these images is a skill that I need to read up on and practice.  I got a few shots I would deem as “interesting,” but nothing like the beautiful bursts I was shown when this setting was revealed to me.

I have some work to do before I try this again.  But, as most who know me will attest, I don’t like letting something beat me.  My failure to get what I wanted out of this first attempt has done nothing but steel my resolve to get that perfect image that I see in my head.  I will read, I will practice, and I will succeed.

Pursuit of knowledge is, after all, the greatest of life’s pursuits.

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One Comment

  1. You may find the use of a tripod to be quite helpful in the the attaining of your fireworks picture. Also the point in which you want to press the button is just about when the “trailer” from the the launch disappears. For a second or two after that is when the display happens. Doesn’t Hershey Park have fireworks through out the summer? If so you will have ample opportunity to practice your art.


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