Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July 2012!

My favorite holiday just happens to be Fourth of July. I connect with the sense of patriotism and the ideals of freedom, sacrifice and bravery. And then there are the fireworks! There is just something about a fireworks display that makes me happy. The color, the sense of wonder and the sheer beauty is such a wonderful way to celebrate this country that I live in and those who have made and continue to make it possible for me to live free.

For this Fourth of July I am visiting my dad who lives in Astoria, Oregon where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. They have a fireworks display over the Columbia that is done from the East Mooring Basin. I had never been, but was excited to experience a new fireworks display with my dad. We got there a couple of hours before the fireworks were set to start which was perfect timing because we were able to park right across from where the fireworks were going to be set off before the parking lot got full. While we waited I spent some time scoping out the area and photographing the sunset.

Settings: ISO 100, 55mm, ss1/320, f/22 (sunlight wb)

Settings: ISO 100, 18mm, ss1/30, f/22 (sunlight wb)

Finally, the sun dipped below the horizon and that meant the second amazing show of the night was going to begin. I wasn't sure where would be the best vantage point to see the display, so I just found where the tripods and photographers were lining up :o). Last year I got a few good firework shots using auto mode. This year I was determined to shoot in manual and be more intentional about my shots. Prior to heading out I read a couple tutorials, one from The Organic Bloom and one from Digital Photography School

For my set up I used my tripod, my 18-55mm lens and my remote control. I set the ISO to 100 to prevent grainy images, my aperture to f/11 to get a wide depth of field, manual focused so that the whole scene was in focus and set my shutter speed to bulb (which leaves the shutter open from when you press the remote button until you press the it again). I had never tried this type of set up before so I really didn't know how it would work out, but once the fireworks started I got into a rhythm. With my remote and the timer on my camera I had two seconds before the shutter opened and then I left it open between 3-12 seconds depending on how many fireworks were going off and how many I wanted in the shot. After a while I found that the best timing was to hit the remote right when I heard the boom and to leave the shutter open until the firework(s) began to fizzle out. 

I LOVE the results. They are so different from what I captured last year and I feel like the preparation really paid off. The 3 shots below are from the beginning, middle and the finale of the show. I really like the trails of the firework reaching the sky, the colors and the framing around the fireworks. For editing I did basic settings in Lightroom on all and for the second shot a removal of distractions and the Fresh and Colorful action by Pioneer Woman in Photoshop. I think the first one is my favorite, but that could be due to the sunset :o). What do you think? 

I hope you had an amazing, safe and fun fourth!

Settings: ISO 100, 18mm, ss12secs, f/11 (on tripod, shutter on bulb)

Settings: ISO 100, 18mm, ss7secs, f/11 (on tripod, shutter on bulb)

Settings: ISO 100, 18mm, ss7secs, f/11 (on tripod, shutter on bulb)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." -  The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

   Chickens on the Moon Crazy Days of Summer


  1. These are fantastic!!! You did a great job capturing the fireworks and great tips too! :) I wish Adalyn wasn't scared of the big booms, I got no photos this year. :( There's always next though. :) Hope you have a great time at your Dad's!

  2. Fantastic photos! I didn't attempt to get fireworks shots this year as I wanted to enjoy the show without the pressure to get the shot but you did a wonderful job at capturing these!

  3. Love those sunset pics; they are gorgeous! The fireworks photos rock! Love 'em!

  4. Your description on why you love the 4th are the same way I feel! Love your fireworks photos. Great job... they are hard to get!

    If you get a chance, stop by my blog and "Like" Hood Photography on Facebook! Thanks!

  5. WOW! Beautiful. I love that yours were done before full sunset. Love the blue look.

  6. Love your firework photos! Would love for you to come and link up your 4th of july photos here:

  7. Wow! Beautiful location and beautiful photos! You nailed it!!!


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