Fireworks on The Fourth / by Osase Noma-Owens

Prior to the experience

Before setting out with my friends, I had never experienced a grand fireworks display. I had seen fireworks before, but they were usually done in people's houses and they weren't very interesting to watch. I could imagine how beautiful the event would look, but my imagination could only take me so far.

 5 seconds, f/5.6, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/5.6, ISO 100

I walked over to my friends' minivan and they took me to an event that was happening in Waunakee, Wisconsin; the event was called Waunaboom 2018. We had to put on a lot of bug spray because the place was a notorious camping spot for mosquitoes. We then settled on the lawn and got some crackers to eat.

 5 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 100

After having some crackers and chilled water, we decided to play an energetic game of volleyball (which I, unfortunately, suck at) and laugh at each other's volleyball moves. It was the first time I actually enjoyed playing volleyball in my whole lifetime. We managed to keep the ball in the air for seven hits, but that was it.

 5 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 100

Following the volleyball game, we decided to get creative with the volleyball and one of us came up with a sort of "volleyball tag" game where you're not supposed to get tagged by the volleyball in order to keep your teammates in the game. Quite awkwardly, I was pretty good at this game, but my team still lost due to poor dodging skills.

 5 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/6.3, ISO 100

After the creative volleyball game, we decided to settle down to watch the fireworks display (as it was about starting) and the sky was now very dark because the blue hour was almost over. One of my friends beckoned for a group photo and I was quite skeptical about it because of the amount of light in the scene. Despite the absence of light where we were, I still decided to push my camera because it can really do wonders, even when no light is present.

 1/6 seconds, f/3.5, ISO 25600

1/6 seconds, f/3.5, ISO 25600

The experience

Shortly after the group photo, the fireworks started and they were startlingly loud. I set up my camera on a tripod and started choosing the best settings that I felt would give the best results. A good tip for shooting fireworks is to choose a shutter duration that would last a whole series of explosions (say 4 to 6 seconds) and to choose the lowest ISO you can while setting your aperture last.

 5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

The fireworks kept going and kept getting louder and more colorful. One of the things I learned while watching the fireworks was that fireworks actually have names! I never knew what a "weeping willow" was until I heard one of my friends scream it from behind me. As the fireworks kept going, smoke started to form and it really created an ambiance for the scene.

 5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

We weren't the only ones watching this grand event as there were hundreds of people who drove all the way to Waunakee to watch the annual fireworks display. People would scream loudly as each set of fireworks went off. I was so immersed into the beauty of the sky that I could barely hear the screams going on around me.

 5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

The Grand Finale

The event was now drawing to a close and I was exhausted due to the games I had played earlier and the screams of excitement that resulted from seeing the fireworks. I was about to pack up my camera when everyone around me started screaming all of a sudden. The sky exploded with colors as tens of fireworks were flung into the sky; the grand finale had started!

 5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

5 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100

It was nuts! I could barely hear the screams as the fireworks had overcome the voices of the people around me. It was an insane experience! They just kept coming and coming and the sky was getting even more colorful. It was then I realized that my aperture might not be able to hold back all the light coming through it. Despite getting an overexposed image on the camera screen, I was easily able to fix it while editing due to the powerful RAW files you get from Nikon cameras. This was the first time I had experienced the American Independence Day, and the first time I had seen a fireworks display. I'm glad I was able to capture my best moments and share them with the world.

 The Grand Finale (5 seconds, f/16.0, ISO 100)

The Grand Finale (5 seconds, f/16.0, ISO 100)