Bombs Bursting in Air

Greetings everyone from our hotel in French Lick Indiana (and no, I’ll never get tired of saying or typing that!).  Linda and I are on a mini-vacation to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary.  To help bring back the memories from 20 years ago, the weather has decided to flashback as well and provide us a heatwave.  So it is in the high nineties this week which I am sure the Globull pundits are claiming are man-made, but for the record it was 105 in Iowa the day we got married which by my quick math was HOTTER than this week.  I’ll certainly save a post for our vacation experience, but as of now I am in a world of hurt on this blog.  I have less than a week to go and a lot of posts to get through.  With the training runs this week for the Bix7 next weekend and trying to get some blogs out, this mini-vacation feels a lot more like work.  But there is still time to pull this through, so let’s not waste anymore time.  In a continuation of the last post, I am bringing you some shots from a local fireworks display that happened on July 3rd. I just took a sampling for this particular post, feel free to stop by our photography website ( to check out the rest of the images – actually the ones through post processing – there are still a number of them to get through from the Peoria display.

While reviewing the shots for post production, I was definitely in a less is more frame of mind.  Sure, the sky filling barrage and wall of sound is fun to watch, but a lot of the true beauty of the individual fireworks tend to get lost in all the light.  This also includes a wash out of an pictures if you are not careful about reducing your shutter speed or closing down the aperture when they start the huge displays.

There is definitely something in the simplicity that really appeals to me and I think highlights the creativity in designing and developing essentially missile (or rather a mortar) that delivers a specific pattern of light.  The last one is probably my favorite of the single firework pictures and one I’ll probably end up getting printed for my den (considering purple being my favorite color and all)  .  The following caught my attention from a Rorschach Test perspective.  Quick, what do you see in this shot?   If you said a headless praying mantis you are likely right there alongside me in the nut house.

Hit the jump to see more fireworks shots including my favorite one out of the entire set and some odd ones that caught my attention for their creepiness.

So I should step back a little and explain the event we took these pictures at.  Living out in the country, you tend to have more freedoms than the city folk (“Still hayseed enough to say look who’s in the big town”), like firing our weapons and enjoying some fireworks.  Fortunately for us, our neighbor down the streets puts on a Huge party for his friends that starts out with a full Mass at noon followed by a pot-luck cookout until dusk and then one of the best 30 minute fireworks displays you will ever witness.  Before Peoria partnered with a couple other communities this year, this party had better fireworks than Peoria proper.  In case you were wondering, they do more than shoot up one firework at a time as the pictures above would suggest.

Usually Linda and I take up position on an adjacent back road just behind where they set off the fireworks in order to get a nice view of the fireworks and more importantly, put us in perfect position for our cameras to capture the moment.  This year we ended up attending the pre-display festivities and mingle with the rest of the people in the neighborhood.

Being our first time actually at the party, we were quite surprised at the shear number of people that showed up for this event.  At best guess we were thinking the crowd was over the 1,000 mark.  I think the host must have invited every student in the local high schools based on the number of teenage girls and boys wandering around that place.

The proximity of the fireworks made The Beast to much glass, so we went with the 70-200 tele on the D7000 and our wide angle kit glass on the D90.  I was shooting with the D90 most of the night and I believe that is what captured all the images in this post.  The following picture didn’t do much for Linda, but I like it for two reasons.  Subject contrast in a picture always interests me and creates a tension in the frame that catches the viewers attention.   The order of the left firework seems subservient to the chaos commanding the right side of the frame.  The other reason I liked it was the visual of eyes in the middle of the explosion – almost looks like Chewbacca

So now for my favorite shot of the entire set.  As mentioned in the previous post about annoying Fireworks Display attendees, this shot was actually a result of the “Late Arrivers” group and thus I should probably cut them a little slack.  Not a lot mind you, but they ended up making this a much more interesting shot.  We had our spot all staked out at the end of the crowd so our tripods would not get into anyone’s way.  Sure enough, as the fireworks started, a group of people came up and plopped themselves down in front of us.  After some post processing, I was able to bring out their silhouettes.

This kind of gives you the feeling of how close we were to the fireworks which is something you don’t get with the huge city displays.  The other amazing thing is the people must have stayed pretty still during the entire long exposure to keep the edges nice and crisp.  I am probably going to get this one printed as well.

As promised, the following were added because they each had some odd effect about them that made it unique (in my own disturbed kind of way).  They were mostly made from the same type of firework, but the results were quite different based on the random paths each took.  The first one here looks like a white ghost, but it is really the skull like feature in the middle of the firework that impressed me.  I might try to recreate this in material form for our next Halloween party.

Again, the same kind of firework, but an aerial bomb went off in a perfect location just above the neck giving the illusion a head.  Oh, and there is another longer skull (mouth closed) in the body of this one as well.

… and then they started to get really creepy.  This one looks like a tiny Michael Meyers getting ready to slice someone open with a knife.  It even has ribs and hip bones to complete the effect.  My 7th grade teach may have been right to warn my parents about all the horror books I was reading as grade schooler.

Not to be outdone, this one reminds me of Thantos coming to claim the souls of the living and taken them back to the Underworld.  He with light in hand standing on the tortured souls of the dead .. sigh… like I am going to get any sleep tonight.

Lastly, I give you my Swan Song.  In tribute to the Hammer of the Gods, this shot reminds me of Led Zeppelin’s record company logo.  The placement of the exploding red ball align perfectly with the outstretched hands of the angel.

I hope you enjoyed this set of fireworks.  This is one of the photographic opportunities that is fun from beginning to end.  Taking the pictures is an entertaining challenge, post production brings out shapes and images that spark your creativity and showing the end results to all of you puts the cherry on top.  Thanks for viewing everyone and look for more posts very quickly!  (note, not time to proofread – will review once I get back home)

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