L is one of my oldest LA friends. We were architectural draftsmen/women/people, whatever the politically correct terminology is these days, way way back before computers. She is one of those friends I see maybe twice a year in a good year. But when we do get together it’s like, didn’t we just see each other last week? Anyway, she lives in Santa Monica and invited me, along with a couple of other friends, to the Santa Monica College fireworks display.
The Santa Monica College display always takes place the Saturday night before July 4th. This was my 3rd outing to this display.
The Santa Monica fireworks were a staple of my life every July 4th when I lived at the beach and the fireworks were shot off from a barge at the end of the pier. But over the years the crowds became more rowdy. Drugs and alcohol took their toll. Gangs too. It became not safe.
The City of Santa Monica moved the show to some ungodly hour in the morning like 5:30 or 6:00 (I don’t remember exactly) figuring the gang bangers, the druggies and the boozers wouldn’t show up at that time of day. But nobody else wanted to either.
So the latest incarnation is at the college where security guards can keep a tight lid on things. So tight that the lady in front of me in the line going in had brought an opened bottle of Italian dressing for her salad. The top was removed and passed along the line for everybody to sniff it! I couldn’t help myself. I commented loudly enough that the line of security personnel could hear me. “You know, sometimes it’s just salad dressing!” They even closely inspected my UNopened bottle of Fiji water… Whatever!
We arrived about 7:30pm for the 9:00pm show. It was a balmy night. We spread our tarps (okay, shower curtains) and blankets out on the astro turf. The sound of the country rock band blared raucously out of the speakers. We shouted to hear each other.
Above is my self-portrait of my “shadow-self.” I think this should be in a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art!
I had thought to bring my dSLR to try my hand at taking photos of the fireworks. I read all the instructions and suggestions. But, along with the fact that I hadn’t even figured out how to mount my camera on my new tripod, I decided I really didn’t want to carry all that equipment. So I whipped out my phone instead. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be taking photos on my phone!
But a few weeks ago, after my old cell phone dropped yet another business call, I realized the time had come to sign up for a grownup cell phone. A smartphone. Of course, now it has already become a part of my life. This was the first outing for my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone as a camera. Just about all my friends rave about their iPhones so I had to be different. Really, I’m just not a big fan of Apple products. Each to their own.
I turned on the camera and flipped through all the menus. There are more options than on my Canon T3i dSLR. Okay, I’m exaggerating… just a little. I settled on the night setting. One of the reasons I didn’t want to bring the Canon was so that I could relax and enjoy the fireworks without worrying about getting perfect photos. I was happy with the idea that I would merely take a few snapshots for memories.
People had brought light sticks, so when the lights went down this is what it looked like around me.
Ah, the moment we had been waiting for. The band packed up and the real show began.
Now, I am by no means claiming these are the most fabulous shots you have ever seen of fireworks. But I let my imagination off the leash and let it run wild.
I am always fascinated by telescope photos of the birth of nebulae. The way these photos came out reminded me of those stellar nurseries of clouds of dust and gas.
I can look backwards in time and see stars being born billions of light years away.
Planets and suns and galaxies spinning out of the gaseous mass and into the universe.
Ribbons of energy spewing forth into the emptiness to form new life.
After shooting the first few minutes of the show I was dizzy. I turned off the camera, sat back, and enjoyed the fireworks for themselves.
At the finale I wanted to grab some shots but after fumbling around in the dark for a few seconds I realized that was not going to happen and I was about to miss the ending. So I let it go. I can still see it in my head if not on my camera phone… and that is fine with me.
Please click on all the photos for a larger view.
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