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Sunday, July 05, 2015

'Murica, Frick Yeah

I took Molly to our usual spot to watch the Berkeley Riverfront fireworks display, the IBEW building on Admiral. It's a great overlook—the houses and apartments in the immediate area appear to be a bit run down/low rent but really the view alone should make this prime real estate. I'm sure in the fullness of time it will be, it's just up the hill from some serious gentrification.

I'm not as much of a fan of watching fireworks as I am of trying to photograph them. They're tricky, these are the best shots I got and I was busy the whole display experimenting with exposure times, varying the aperture a bit, playing with focal lengths. I kept it in Manual and set the shutter speed to 'bulb' where it stays open as long as the shutter is depressed. I set it to mirror-up so as to eliminate potential vibration when releasing the shutter, and of course I used the remote trigger. But it's hard to get very many quality shots off because the event goes by so fast. You'll have your shutter open for, say 45 seconds, then the camera takes about that long to run its noise reduction, during which time you can't get another shot off. Then you'll have the shutter open for 20 seconds, wait another half minute for processing. The noise reduction can be turned off, but long exposures heat up the sensor and create significant noise, so I settle for fewer, cleaner shots.

There were lots of private fireworks being set off. At one point, someone must have set off tens of thousands in strings down in Columbus Park, the plume of white smoke which rose up was truly huge.

When I lived in Gardner, we usually went to the fireworks there, and the one beef I always had was they started them too early. It would still be light out at 9:00 p.m., but they'd start them up anyway. I could never understand it because the people who come out will wait, they're not going to give up and go home, but the fireworks will look so much better if it's actually dark out. The Kansas City display doesn't start until more like 10:00 p.m., which makes for a long wait if you're going to scope out a prime location, but it's a good time to picnic, visit with the other folks who come out and all that.

In fact, I talked to several people who watched from the IBEW last year, and realized this was my third or fourth time watching from here. There might be a better place to view them from, but it's hard to imagine where it'd be. They might be louder down on the riverfront if you wanted to pay admission and fight the crowds, but from up here you can also see the night works going off all over the horizon.

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