4th of July on Vashon Island

Every year on The Island there is a fantastic fireworks show launched out in Quartermaster Harbor.  I don’t know who pays for this year after year, but it is a first-class display, enjoyed as a community event.  We all gather along the harbor for hours before the “real” show.  July in Washington means that the sun goes down pretty late.  It doesn’t get fully dark until after 10:00, so even if you show up at 8:00 (because parking is a bit of an issue), there will still be a couple hours to hang out and meet the neighbors.  Normally it’s pretty crazy down on the beach.

For one night of the year it’s legal to set off the big aerial fireworks, and people certainly do.  It can get a little dicey with so many so many explosives going off in every direction, but the danger just adds to the excitement as far as I’m concerned.  Did I mention that when the tide is up we’re sitting right on the road, with cars going by inches behind us?  That adds to the excitement.  After each volley finishes, I cross myself and thank God I’m still alive to see the next one.

Then the real show started.

I love fireworks so much.  I love the full sensory experience – the bright, colorful sight (obviously), the heart-shaking sound of the booms and the peppery, cordite smell that grows as the night goes on.  Light, smoke, bass and family all in one – who could ask for more from a free experience?

As a lover of fireworks and photography, I take shooting fireworks kind of seriously.  There’s a very limited number of opportunities to practice, so I try to make the most out of each occasion.  In case you’re interested, I almost always end up shooting at f/8 and ISO 100.  I set focus to almost infinity in manual mode on the bulb setting and use a cabled remote shutter release.  Being on bulb mode, the shutter speed changes with each exposure.  Normally my shutter speed is between 4 and 8 seconds.

The thing I like the most about the show here is the reflection in the water.  If you have access to my EXIF settings you’d see that most of these pictures were made with fairly wide angles.  We were practically right on the water.  The small town feel, the local flavor and the constant sense of terror all contribute to my warm feelings of this annual event.  Truly, I love the fireworks on Vashon Island so much.

Until next year . . .

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