Fourth of July Mashup

4th of July, Reston Virginia, USA

HDR from a time series of boats and fireworks on the Fourth of July at Lake Thoreau, Reston, Virginia, USA.
Fourth of July Mashup

Every Fourth of July my lovely Nancy and I invite a group of friends and neighbors to cruise on a deckboat on Lake Thoreau at sunset, to watch the evening’s impromptu celebrations of Independence Day. Everyone with a boat, barge, pontoon boat, floating dock, kayak, canoe, or pool float is out on the lake. Pontoon boats and floating decks dine and drink by the light of countless tiki torches, candles, and lanterns. American flags fly from any vertical post or pole. Homes around the lake set off fireworks. Pontoon boats set of fireworks. Kayaks set off fireworks. Actually, the only people not playing with fire are the swimmer on pool floats. Party sounds mix with marches and patriotic country music coming from a hundred different boats and patios around the lake. Kids and adults play with sparklers and small strings of fireworks on the boats and lawns all around. There are periodic splashes as partygoers go into the water (some intentionally, some less so). Enormous, professional-grade starburst shells go off overhead as bottle rockets inscribe arcs over (and sometimes accidentally between) the boats. The whole thing is spontaneous and unplanned. It is different every year. But always inspiring.

Last weekend the weather was perfect. The sky was clear, the air and water warm, and the humidity was low. Everyone was there. The fireworks came from the usual big homes, plus a few we hadn’t seen before. Our music was a mashup of Sousa marches and patriotic country. It’s a giant birthday party for all of us — America’s birthday on the lake.

Early in the evening my group tied up at one bank of the lake and I set up a tripod on dry ground. Sometime around what I guessed would be the evening’s crescendo, it occurred to me to try mixing HDR techniques with time exposures, just to see what would happen: Would the result capture the sense of movement, light, excitement, and celebration? What do you think?

(Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm zoom at 66mm, on a tripod for multiple ISOs and shutter speeds at f/8 then combined for a single HDR image.)

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Images and text copyright © Rick Collier and thePhotoTourist. All rights reserved.

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