Alan and I tend to have some pretty magical luck. More times than not, we have found ourselves in the right place, at not just the right time, but the perfect time. A couple weeks ago, he and I decided that we would go to San Francisco on the 4th of July to watch the fireworks. It had been a few years since we had done so, because of my lack of energy or because he was scheduled to work. But this year he decided to schedule the 5th off, so we could revisit one of our favorite things, driving along the Embarcadero, in search of the perfect timing, to have a front row seat for the fireworks show.
We left at around 7:00 pm, and headed to the Bay Bridge for the 9:30 pm show. There was a lot to consider about going, in that there was the usual threat of some low fog expected to come through the Golden Gate at about the same time the fireworks were scheduled to begin. We did a bit of debating back and forth. Would it be a washout? Would it be a wasted trip? Finally, in the end, we decided to brave it, because the thing is with San Francisco fog, it seems to have a mind of it's own. In years past, the fog has showed up when not really expected, and other times it has stalled just short of the Golden Gate.
It's San Francisco. It's fog. LOL
When we got into the city we were pleasantly surprised to find the traffic wasn't all that bad. We inched along the Embarcadero, until we were we were forced to take Bay street up the hill away from Pier 39, the first sight of where the fireworks were to begin. It was a disappointing turn of events, but we held out hope that we could somehow make our way over to Aquatic Park, which sits just down from Ghiradelli square for the second sight of the fireworks show. Unfortunately, we were also directed away from that spot as well. After moving through traffic for about 12 blocks, we decided to head back toward the Bay Bridge and call it a night.
About 2 blocks later, all the traffic came to a stop. We were on a hill, high above Aquatic Park, and to our amazement, in an apparent front row seat for the most beautiful fireworks show the city could have done. We had NO idea when we turned back toward the middle of the city, that we were actually heading in the right fitrction for the show. As soon as it began, all 4 sides of the intersection was stopped until the show was over. There was no one in front of us, so we had a completely unobstructed view. It was magical. I managed to snap off a few decent photos, but mostly Alan and I cuddled and enjoyed the romance of the moment. Then, about 5 minutes into the show, Alan handed me a box, and whispered... I Love You. Inside... an amazing pearl Y necklace set in 14 carat gold, with one large pearl in the center, and several smaller ones around it.
It's Gorgeous! Silly man still loves me and spoils me after almost 22 years. :)
I love my fella.
It was a good night. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE my necklace, but our magic doesn't come from material things, our magic comes from having found each other in a very big world. And a love that will last beyond this lifetime. You could say we have good timing.
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos."
~Edward O. Wilson
According to the University of Minnesota, this is a House Cricket. I just call it BLECH! When I first got my drivers license, I thought it would be fun to drive a convertible, and at 25, when I decided to go car hunting, I considered purchasing one. I had fallen in love with the Pontiac Fiero, and was all set to buy one, when my dad pointed out some obvious pitfalls. Rain... a lot of convertibles leak. Sunburn... so don't forget to stock up on lots and lots of sunscreen. Incontinent birds... or at least some that don't care how cool I look behind the wheel of sporty little car, when you have to go, you have to go. And the one pitfall that he knew would absolutely cause me to come to my senses... UGLY, FLYING CREATURES.
Ummm... yep. UGLY, FLYING CREATURES changed my mind. Yep.
As I watched this House Cricket hang on to the windshield, it reminded me of that conversation dad and I had all those years ago. Since that conversation back in the 80's I have heard of more than one close encounter with a FLYING BUG. My brother-in-law was driving his truck down HWY1 one warm summer afternoon, when he was broadsided, in the left cheek, by a large dragonfly. It had a big beak, that took a huge chunk out of his face. Luckily he kept his head and was able to stop safely, but now he can't stand to be around them. Which, of course, I completely understand. Wouldn't you?
So, while I will never own a convertible, driving a hard topped car allows me to photograph moments like this one. I wasn't really thrilled that the cricket was there, but getting out my camera and getting to work on photographing it made me feel better. My camera has done a lot to alleviate my fears and phobias. It inspired me to I read a bit about this House Cricket and learn about what he was about. It's a rather interesting critter, both in actuality and in myth and lore. I am sure the HOUSE CRICKET has his place in the world, but I would rather it hadn't been on my windshield. Like I said... BLECH. LOL.
"There are two kinds of light. The glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures."
One last posting of archived fireworks, before the 4th of July. I have been studying different online articles about photographing fireworks and I have done a small amount of practicing with low light. It has been a while since I have done a subject as demanding as fireworks. Gosh so much goes into preparing for the outing. I was hoping to be able to perhaps purchase a small amount of home fireworks, to get some practice in, but, alas, fireworks are prohibited in Alameda County. Sigh.
I have looked at a lot of fireworks photos online, and while absolutely gorgeous, most are Photoshopped to death, and therefore not a whole lot of help. One thing that makes me feel better, a lot of photographers don't seem to let the inevitable smoke that tends to hang in the air bother them. I guess it's a necessary evil. Well, I am ready I think, now we just have to decide if I want to shoot up towards the fireworks, or try for a spot that looks down on top of them. As always, that old reliable San Francisco fog will lead me. One thing I do know, without having to think about it... TRIPOD, TRIPOD, TRIPOD.
"The details of life have a tendency to interfere with the actual living of life."
LOL. I am pretty sure I know where I went wrong here. LOL. It's so funny, but when I took this photo I was really happy with the color, lighting and composition. When I got home and uploaded it to my editing gallery, I saw that there were glaring mistakes. No balance. Dull focal point. Rule of thirds? What rule of thirds? LOL. I love photography because I am always learning from it, and about it. My photography is a work in progress. LOL. Note to self... STOP THE CLUTTER. Well, unless I am photographing...ummm... CLUTTER.
"Little details of life have special talents in creating big problems."
"Everything is created moment to moment, always new. Like fireworks, this universe is a celebration and you are the spectator contemplating the eternal fourth of July and your absolute splendor."
Generally speaking, I have had pretty good luck photographing fireworks. The very first time I did so, came about as a bit of a surprise. Alan and I had spent the day in San Francisco and were on our way home by way of Marin County, when we decided to stop at the vista point on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. All of a sudden the sky lit up from the area around AT&T Park, which is south of the Bay Bridge. Apparently the Giants had a fireworks show after the game that night, and I got a great opportunity to do some photography on instinct. The photo above was the first one I took, and while I think I did okay with it, I still wish I would have zoomed in tighter as to not has so much black in the foreground. I have considered doing some cropping, but I always seem to go with the photo as it is. Over all I kinda like the balance of the bright city lights, and the solid forefront.
With the Fourth of July only a few days away, I am spending a lot of time in my fireworks folders from previous events, to see what I did right, and what didn't work at all. Lets face it, Photoshop is a good tool to have for events like fireworks, if for nothing else, to eliminate the noise and small odd reflection, but my goal is to not have to rely on the editing tool. It takes some work to compose a successful fireworks photo, you have to know your camera and your general surroundings. To tripod, or not to tripod? Relaxation is a good thing to practice, as to not make mistakes by getting anxious or feeling rushed. The two photos below were taken on July 4th, 2007, as Alan and I drove along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It was the best shot out of about 200 or so photos taken that night. I was happy that at least 1 came out well. It was a difficult shot to achieve, in that every few feet, as we inched along, completely changed the scene and conditions.
I did have to do a small amount of editing, mostly to tone down glare and noise. The natural lighting had an orange cast to it, so I kept that and did a small amount of back light enhancing. Over all, it was pretty much what I hoped to get from that moment. It had taken me longer than I thought it would to get my focusing set, so it felt good see something good come from the work I put into it. I have tried displaying the photo in both color and black/white and I am not sure which I prefer. So, that's where you come in. I would love some feedback about the three photos in this post. Help me be a better fireworks photographer. Give it to me straight... okay? If you have some fireworks photos, please post some on Monday, and tell me about your experiences with photography in that type of lighting.