My previous experience with Fourth of July fireworks is going to an organized show, typically at a local park and sponsored by the city. You bring folding chairs or a blanket, maybe have some lemonade or watermelon, and watch the show from beginning to the grand finale with a crowd of people. Then fight the traffic going home. That’s been the routine as far back as I can remember.
My family and I moved from California to Utah two years ago. This year’s Independence Day celebration was actually our third since relocating to this state. Fireworks in Utah are different than other places I’ve lived. For starters, you can buy fireworks and set them off yourselves at your house. And everyone, it seems, does that. Yes, there are organized fireworks displays just like everywhere else, but each neighborhood is like its own fireworks show. There are restrictions on what fireworks you can buy and use and where you can do it, but overall it’s pretty open.
The front yard or back yard, it doesn’t really matter, any spot outdoors is good to catch the neighborhood show. There are fireworks all around, to your left and right, in front and behind, right over your head and maybe near your feet. Even though it is completely unorganized, it’s as exiting as any organized fireworks display that I’ve ever been to. It’s really an amazing experience, and it happens for several days. July 4th is obviously the big night, but the couple days before and even the day after can be a good show.
This year I used my Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera with a Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens and 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 lens to capture the action. Relying on high-ISO, these photographs are all handheld, no tripod used or needed. I’ve always used a tripod to capture fireworks, and it was nice not lugging one around (especially since I was trying to keep tabs on four kids). Granted, if I had used a tripod I could have produced cleaner images, but these came out decent enough. It’s amazing how well digital cameras can “see in the dark” and how good crazy high ISOs can look right out of camera nowadays. Pictures like these handheld would have been impossible not all that long ago.