Although I know that preparation and familiarity with a fireworks show would be very helpful in getting great shots, we’re still not at a stage in our lives that I can devote half a day to staking out a location, and I don’t think I’ve ever shot the same fireworks show twice. It’s not that I lead such a wandering life, but more that I don’t get out much.

This year, though, we did take a little afternoon reconnaissance mission checking out the event parking lots to find a suitable location to watch the Blue Ash fireworks. We found a few places that looked better than others, and hoped they would be still available by dark. However, when we returned at nightfall, we were unfamiliar enough with the territory that we couldn’t find the same spot easily, got a bit turned around, and ended up in a different lot. Then I trotted our family over a couple of blocks, looking for a better spot, while worrying about chigger bites and getting run over in the dark by cars. Since we didn’t know where the fireworks were going to be shot, it was hard to tell if we were improving our position, so we elected to just go back to the lot where we started.

As we got back to the home lot, the first few blasts went off, putting our youngest child in tears. We were apparently quite close, and the decibel level proved it.

So did these signs a few yards away.

Blue Ash fireworks

We camped on a little grassy spot with our chairs and blanket, my husband covered our youngest child’s ears, and we were treated to quite a remarkable show of fireworks.

As I mentioned, we ended up surprisingly close, considering our late arrival. The first thing I needed to do was to switch to a normal lens, rather than a tele. I used focal lengths from 17mm to 50mm, but the average was around 30mm. I’m not sure if it was our proximity, or if the show designers just liked the unpredictability, but the bursts were all over the place, and I couldn’t just frame the first few bursts and relax, as I could in some other shows.

The fireworks themselves showed unusual variety.

The show started with some conventional chrysanthemum bursts. These are the ones I am used to shooting, and the ones I think come out best in the sense that they look like what I expect fireworks to look like.

[For those who care, the ISO was 100, and aperture was between f/22 and f/25. Shutter speed was between one and five seconds on bulb mode, activated with a corded remote. For a more detailed discussion on how to choose an adjust camera settings, see here.]

Blue Ash fireworks Blue Ash fireworks

Then they had a lot with unusual shapes, which were really fascinating to watch, but didn’t necessarily translate into the most classic fireworks images.

Blue Ash fireworks Blue Ash fireworks Blue Ash fireworks

They had a lot of these little swirly puffs. They come out in pictures looking like dandelion puffs or nebulae, depending on if they have other fireworks around them.

Blue Ash fireworks Blue Ash fireworks

I liked this wintry color scheme.

Blue Ash fireworks

Then we had the big finish.

Blue Ash fireworks

It looked like our location turned out to be okay at the end, especially considering how much was left to chance.

Many thanks to the city of Blue Ash for putting on a spectacular show for us! Maybe I’ll be able to make it back for a repeat performance next year!