Fireworks at the Capitol

July 06, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Happy Independence Day, everyone! Every year, I look forward to seeing fireworks on July 4—especially now that I've figured out how to photograph them.

Chrysanthemum of light There are many online guides to shooting fireworks. They all tell you what settings to use on your camera. However, most of them don't talk much about composition. While fireworks can be awe-inspiring when viewed in person, they lose something when photographed. In my view, the photographer needs to add that something back. Simply pointing your camera up to the sky and shooting fireworks against a backdrop of the night sky just doesn't work for me. The best photos of fireworks include an interesting foreground or background that provides context and scale. For these photos, I used the Capitol to provide both context and scale.

A neon Capitol celebration Most of the great photos of fireworks that I've seen taken in Washington include popular landmarks. However, it seems that they have all been shot from the west of the Capitol and face east. If you go to the National Mall or across the Potomac River to the Iwo Jima Memorial on July 4, you will find huge crowds and many photographers with tripods. To the east of the Capitol, it is a completely different story. There you'll find just a few residents of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The biggest difficulty with shooting the fireworks from the east side of the Capitol is getting the proper angle. You need to be far enough away from the Capitol in order to line up the fireworks with the dome, but not too far or everything gets too small. The next biggest difficulty is finding an angle such that all the trees in the Capitol Hill neighborhood don't block your view—not an easy thing to do.

I hope you find my photos interesting and unique. If you have any questions or would like to provide me with any feedback, feel free to send me an e-mail or leave a comment.

 


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