Cleveland July 4th Fireworks

Here are the fireworks pics for Cleveland’s July 4th show.

Cleveland Fireworks

The fireworks were shot from an area near the mouth of the Cuyohoga River, with the best viewing areas in the East Flats. Most spectators were camped out on the grassy slopes near the RTA station there, next to the vans from the radio station that gave a bit of musical accompaniment to the show. Dusk was around 10PM, and the show lasted about 20 minutes.

I had hoped to shoot from the Detroit-Superior Bridge, but, when I got up there, I saw that the fence around the walkway was too tall, and the bars too closely spaced. A pity: it’d be easier to move around for foregrounds with Cleveland’s picturesque industrial ruins — the old, permanently raised railroad bridges in particular. The Flats was a bit lower, and harder to move around because of the crowds. I did see someone else with a DSLR and tripod camped on the grass, but he moved almost as soon as the fireworks started. I suppose he concluded that he was in the wrong spot, but the view seemed OK by me.

This was my first real outing with a tripod. The ball-head is nice, but sometimes hard to get level with. The heavy 80-200mm lens also made things a little more complicated. I also wish the D70 had a cable release: I used a short timer for a number of the tripod shots during dusk. The lens was also a bit too long for where I was at, and I didn’t bring a second one. I had expected to shoot a block or two back from where I wound up, up on the bridge.

For the fireworks shots themselves, I set the camera to fully manual, with the focus set at a point just short of infinity. The first few minutes were spent diddling with the aperture and shutter speed, so I could get reasonably exposed multi-second shots. In th end, I didn’t have a typical exposure time: I changed it from 2 or 3 seconds, down to around 1/30 second, and back again. I seemed to get reasonable results with the fireworks on either of these general shutter speed settings. The shots that didn’t work were 4 or more seconds: there was too much light captured with such a long exposure time, and the pictures came out very cluttered.

The last half of the shots were junked because, when moving around to get different foregrounds, I accidentally changed the focus on the lens to something considerably less than infinity. All of these latter shots were out of focus. A couple were sort of vaguely OK, but for the most part these shots were trashed. Too much autofocus usage leads one to take focus more or less for granted, I suppose: I never checked focus after setting things initially.

Cleveland will have another set of fireworks tonight, July 5th: the orchestra will be performing at Public Square. Following the concert, fireworks will be shot above and behind Terminal Tower. Possibly, we’ll go to that, too, but it’s relatively late, and we get up early nowadays. And, it looks like rain.

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