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.

Continue reading Bombs Bursting in Air

The Most Annoying People at a 4th of July Celebration

Happy Independence Day everyone in America.  Always remember our freedom was not free.  When I was young, fireworks were legal (at least in Illinois) and we generally spent the weekend lighting up our Black Cats, Roman candles, rockets and all kinds of colorful fountains.  Today, of course, the legal sterilization of anything fun (spearheaded by insurance company lobbyists and over protective soccer moms I’m sure) has reduced the youth of today to looking on with gloom as carbon snakes smolder on the pavement and displays of mock enjoyment at throwing pieces of tissue paper on the ground to produce a sound slightly lower than a cap.  Those realizing just how inane that is usually whisk their kids into the car and head down to the local traffic jam they call a community fireworks display.  Linda and I try to make the best of it by hauling our camera equipment out and experimenting with slow shutter speeds.  Each year we encounter the same annoying types of people at these events and figured I would highlight them in hopes of stopping some of these trends – probably not going to happen, but at least I get to spend a post making fun of rude people.

The late arriver:

I have to put this at the top of my annoyance list because it breaks a common code of respect for other people who probably have no other course of action beyond just accepting the fact they have been victimized or doing something about it and likely spending July 5th in jail.  In blame of politicians who vote sterilization rules into law, community firework displays have evolved into big events drawing in lots of people from the surrounding areas.  Smart people are aware that is necessary to sacrifice a part of the day (length of time dependent on the investment in the the fireworks and distance to competing communities with their own show) to get situated in their favorite viewing spots.  Due to their disposable time, they are granted the privilege of selecting their choice spot.  I should point at this time, that I think it should be required that at least one of the party is in their chair for the duration of the reservation.  Running down early and throwing your chair in a spot and then hightailing it back to the air conditioner is a violation of the reservation integrity and should be subjected to having their seats moved to the back of the viewing area or into the water should you happen to be on the waterfront – by definition this means that seat reserving is generally only for parties of two or more since bathroom breaks could result in you having to dive in for your chair.  It is a good assumption that all the best viewing spots will be taken under an 1.5 hours before the show starts by individuals who have been sitting in their chair for hours possibly drinking lots of alcohol to help pass the monotony of having people ask them if the surrounding empty chairs can be hurled into the water.  Eventually the local radio announcer will get on the microphone to inform you of the one thing those in their seats ALREADY KNOW having looked at your watch every minute up to the moment he tells you the fireworks are going to start in 10 minutes.  In truth, this appears to be a signal to all the later arrivers to rush to the front of the walkway, fence, water’s edge (or whatever the natural barrier is between you and the gunpowder) and stand there.  I find this happen more in the larger city arenas (witnessed firsthand at Peoria’s riverfront a number of years ago), but lately it has been happening at the small community shows as well – take for instance last night at a local party down the street where all the hip college kids decided a blind person picked out their party spot and felt entitled to haul their coolers in front of the people who applied a little intelligence to their seating selection.  To be honest, those kids didn’t have a dramatic impact on the viewing since we were pretty close to where they were shooting them off.  Now the Peoria incident was a different story thanks to the launch angle of the fireworks and the difference in the levels of those standing and those sitting.  I kept my camera trained on some elderly couples up front waiting for something to come out of the arguments that were triggered.  Well, argument may be a strong word since that implies both sides engaged in a heated discussion where in this case the late arrivers simply ignored them and concentrated on the fireworks display they now had a perfect view of.  I think the only option in this case is to extend the chair rule to include throwing these idiots into the water as well… which brings us full circle to the July 5th comment.

Hit the jump to see a description of other annoying people encountered at celebrations of our Independence.

Continue reading The Most Annoying People at a 4th of July Celebration

Happy Fourth of July America


Once again, the greatest country in the world celebrates its birthday.  This means it is time for the light shows in the sky (courtesy of China firework factories).   Today is another guest blog entry courtesy of my wife’s photography.  We basically just learned the trick to taking fireworks pictures and was out catching the local displays to try it out.  To be honest, the settings are only about 40% of the effort.  It is all about timing since you have to keep the shutter open for a number of seconds.  However, when you get lucky, it sure looks good.


I really like this one she took for a couple of reasons.  The color is really crisp, but generally fountains give off way to much light and overpower the image.  She had the shutter timing perfectly for that oneand gives an interesting shadow as it shot through the trees.

This one came from the same display.  It gives the impression of huge sparklers suspended in the air.  Too bad the fountain had to be cut off the bottom, but that would have probably washed out the shot.


The hardest shots are the large flowering fireworks due to having to guess the timing (about 1 second after you see the propulsion flame go out works pretty good) and harder yet is trying to guess the diameter of the explosion to set the zoom appropriately (yes, we are zoomed in pretty good).  To be honest, the off center ones give an interesting artistic impression.

Hit the jump to see some of these pictures

Continue reading Happy Fourth of July America