During baseball season, fireworks are displayed on Fridays after every home game the Reds play in Cincinnati. After the game it’s about a 20 minute wait before fireworks begin, allowing time for the spectators sitting in the right outfield bleachers to move over to the other side of the stadium. It’s worth the wait, cauz it’s quite a show! If you’re not attending the game, the next best place to watch the dazzling display is from the other side of the Ohio River, in Covington or Newport, KY.
On a recent visit, I set my camera and tripod up on the shores of Covington, KY and shot from the convenience of one of the many park benches scattered along the grassy embankment. Other people including families with small kids also gathered and waited for the game to end. Since it started at 7:30pm, the crowd grew around 9pm thinking fireworks would begin soon after. But this particular night, the Reds and Bluejays were a good match and the game kept going and going…we’d hear an update every so often as to what the score was and what inning (only the top of the 7th?!) from men sitting nearby on other park benches who were listening to the game. When the Reds finally lost, it was close to 10:40pm. Fireworks started around 11pm.
The long wait gave me plenty of time to choose the composition and check manual focus. I knew that I wanted to include the boats that had drifted into shafts of light and anchored to watch the show, as they provided interest and depth. I especially liked how some spectators on one boat were silhouetted in the key light, and tried to include them in the foreground.
Fireworks can be tricky to shoot. And I couldn’t remember the last time I tried. So it was purely experimental. Like I said, I initially decided on the basic composition (switching between vertical and horizontal) and checked the manual focus of my camera on the tripod before the fireworks began. This allowed me to simply keep the camera stationary on the tripod, my eyes on the sky, and my trigger finger ready to click whenever something caught my fancy. Using live view, I could glance at the LCD screen to see the captured image and make adjustments regarding exposures, primarily changing the ISO from 800 to 1600. The experimental part involved varying the shutter speed and f/stop at whim.
Sometimes I used a faster shutter to freeze the action. Shot: f/2.8 at 1/30 SS.
Other times I chose a slow shutter to show the firework formations falling toward the water. Shot: f/16 at 4 seconds.
And when I wanted the skyline to be in focus, I chose an f/stop of 16, which also resulted in the starburst effect on the boat lights.
Some shots were total misses. Like the overexposed shots when too many fireworks hit the skies at once.
But sometimes I got lucky capturing the color and formations exactly as my eyes saw it. Shot: f/6.7 at .7 SS
I was impressed that the Reds home game firework show over the Ohio River in Cincinnati was just as spectacular as our big 4th of July celebration over the Ohio River back home in Evansville. And watching from the quiet KY side was easy and traffic hassle free. Keep that in mind…cauz there are more Friday night Reds home games to come, and an even bigger fireworks display every Labor Day weekend in Cincinnati–this year on August 31. Check out P&G Riverfest for more info!