Behind the Shot

July 4th Chicago fireworks and skyline

The story behind the shot

I took this long exposure shot photo on July the 4th in Chicago. It is one of my personal favorite pictures as I have great memories from that night. I remember I was out with my camera and I didn’t really have a July the 4th plan, or idea of where would be a good place to watch the fireworks from this part of the city. I had seen tons of pictures from the other side of Navy Pier, from Museum Campus, but never from this side, so I really had no idea of whether I would be able to see much.

There were a lot of people sitting along the side of a lake and I sat down next to  a family. The mom of the family had a camera with her ready to take some fire works pictures. It was still light out. I noticed there was a large puddle near the river edge and I went down to take a reflection shot. I had my guerilla pod with me and sat on the floor on the edge of the puddle to take the picture. I thought it turned out cool ( you can see the shot here)  so I figured I would get the shot from there and hopefully the fire works will be in view and big enough. I went back and sat down.

A child with the family next to me and was waving around a colorful light toy, like a mini toy light saber. I mentioned to the mom that you could get some cool long exposures with that and could do some light painting with it. She seemed really interested in how, as she was a beginner and wanted to learn more about photography, and seemed happy to have someone to ask questions to. I showed her the reflection shot I just got and told her how it was done, she seemed thrilled and I took her down to the puddle to show her how to get the shot, and how to put the camera as close as possible to the puddle, using live view mode to see. It was excited to me to have someone to share my knowledge with! She went back happy with her shot, and I stayed sitting on the wet ground as the show was about to begin.

A small child came down and stood right in the middle of the puddle, it was such a cool shot, she looked like she was floating in the air, but people around asked her to get out of the shot, and I was like, no its cool, she can stay!  Anyway she went back to her parents and I took lots of long exposures of varying lengths. I would usually take long exposures  at ISO 100, but I increased my ISO 400 because I liked how a 1 second exposure was capturing the fireworks, while still being long enough to capture the ambient light and the skyline and keeping everything within a good exposure. I generally keep the blinkies mode on my camera to tell me if there are any blown out hightlights.  I thought the fire works were coming out a little small, but then the grand finale came and I grabbed the shot here of the largest fireworks form the night. I was pretty happy. When I got up I noticed I had been sitting in the puddle and was all wet, but it was worth it!

So I took this shot sitting on the floor at the very edge, slightly in the puddle, with my camera on live view mode, on a Guerilla pod. ISO 400, f6,3 1sec exposure on a Nikon D600.

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