Fourth of July Art in the Sky

July 6, 2009 § 23 Comments

Think Fourth of July and two things come to mind: Independence! & Fireworks! :)

Read between the lines and you will also spell hotdogs, burgers, beer, candies et al– the All American fare. The fun fare!

This is not news anymore but for those of you who didn’t know, this year, the fireworks celebrations in Manhattan were moved from the East river to the Hudson River on the West side. Where they originally began. People thronged on both sides of the Hudson river to feast their eyes, and I decided to perch myself on the Hoboken river side. That’s because I was planning to capture shots of these fireworks, shimmering and crackling right above the Manhattan skyline.

Well, the setting turned out to be different and plans had to change! All the action in the sky lay way up north, and there was simply no possibility of juxtaposing the fireworks with Manhattan in the backdrop (from any corner in Hoboken).


I am not complaining:)

The view I had on hand, was by no means limiting or any lesser. In fact, I ended up enjoying the fact that there was no background to shoot against, except the dark clear sky. Light, colors and myriad patterns exploded with such beauty in this emptiness, that I am wanton to call this experience nothing but an artful indulgence.

So it was. This evening, was a punctuation in my recent experiments with photography. It was an evening entrenched in colors, soft focus and abstract impressions.

These are my impressions, for you:


This is the south end of Hoboken. Manhattan glimmered on the opposite side. An almost full moon night rendered the sky much lighter than the quiet waters below. Numerous boats and cruises dotted the Hudson river, waiting for the show to begin.


By the time I walked further up north, along the riverside, the moon had caught my fancy. Its soft warm milkiness, against this cold red metal crane was simply unavoidable, unmissable.


The Manhattan skyline – shot a little way up north- along the river. I continued with the out of focus outlook and assisted this shot with a little camera movement while clicking. Cropped this picture to get rid of some of the sky from the top. Love the result.


The crowds – waiting this side. There were people everywhere- with their mats, snacks, cameras – a sense of celebration hung in the light balmy air. I stopped here for a little while. Then concluded that the treeline on the north side of this nook might obstruct my view of the impending show. So I walked on.

And walked straight into this marvel that lay in the sky, right ahead of me.  It was goose bump-y beautiful:) The sky was lit up with giant splashes of color, abundant glitter and incredible bursts of light!

Call it paint on canvas, abstract photography or what have you. I have to say just one thing: This was Art in the Sky. And I captured it so. True to what I saw & felt at the moment.

Look long enough, and they will invoke thoughts and emotions of the sundry kind. As if you were walking by a work of art.

Here they go now:


NikonD90 105mm 1/125s F/5.6


NikonD90 35mm 1/125s F/5




NikonD90 105mm 1/15s F/5.6


NikonD90 105mm 1/15s F/5.6


I hope you enjoyed this turn of events, because I certainly did! I can see myself delving into abstracts more often. This was a springboard, and I look forward to your feedback, which always helps me grow.

If you find you are interested in exploring abstracts further, do check out Marti Jeffers’ work. A fellow blogger and an established photographer, I have found her work very inspiring and engaging!

Here is a great write-up on the history of fireworks, on David & Tamara’s blog. This duo loves to photograph and write. And I enjoy their blog very much. Hey, this article is not your usual Wikipedia fare! It has a much more interesting voice to it.

There’s a lot more on both these blogs to explore. Go on, surf (live) a little! :)

P.S. I will upload the whole gamut of pictures from the Fourth of July evening on Flickr later tonight. Abstract, typical and otherwise. So you can indulge yourself, forever more!



– The juicer at work

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§ 23 Responses to Fourth of July Art in the Sky

  • Yashasvi says:

    Hey.. Cool stuff again! :)

    I particularly like the Manhattan skyline shot. I was clearly intrigued by it. I can see that it is out of focus (understandable ..that it is deliberate) and that there’s a slight shake to it. I wondered whether it would have looked better with closer focus on buildings and the same shake. ..after a couple of views I felt that I like the current version as it gives it a water-colour-ish feel to it. :)

    And I loved the first shot in the fire-cracker series. The blur almost makes them look like colours of Holi! Innit? :D

    It’s fun to see the pics.. and I guess it’s coz u were having fun taking them.
    May u have more fun.. so I can enjoy the pics like always!

    • The Juicer says:

      Thank you, that you’ve put so much thought into the Manhattan skyline shot is ingratiating…spoken like a true photographer!
      Two past experiments: I had taken similar shots earlier, a close-up and a broader landscape.
      1. The close-up was decidedly less appealing. I just have 105mm zoom on my lens, so am not sure if you are visualizing the picture more zoomed in.
      2. The landscape looked better, but not as good as this one. The earlier pic was with a smaller aperture- F/22- and covered more of the cityscape.
      Compared to the above two, the current shot is somewhere in between, and the likability of this one was quite obvious to me too.
      The first fireworks shot is such a splash of color! The analogy to Holi colors is so apt!:) Also reminds me of just paint on canvas. Abandon. Effervescence. Serendipity.
      Yeah, I had a lot of fun! I wanted to capture the fireworks a little differently, as if shooting from my own viewpoint. I am so glad you enjoyed it too!

  • kkhphotos says:

    I’ve never been to Manhattan (well not your Manhattan but we have a “Little Apple” here in Kansas) I’m sure the “Big Apple” must be a great place to shoot. Such a variety of places and people, I’ll bet you could find something new on every corner.

    Great work on these fireworks, I’ll have to zoom in closer next time. I like the abstract look of those. This was only the second time I really tried to shoot fireworks so I’m always looking for more tips and ideas.

    • The Juicer says:

      Many thanks for visiting and for the kind comments!
      So what’s Little Apple like in Kansas? :) Right on about the Big Apple, the diversity here is so inspiring.
      I am glad you enjoyed these pics, my first time shooting fireworks too, but I just knew that I would shoot them differently :) Do share your ideas and experiences when you shoot the next time!

  • Liz says:

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I love the Manhattan skyline! I also enjoyed many of the firework photos!! I’ll keep checking back for more photos!

    • The Juicer says:

      Thank you Liz, I love how the Manhattan skyline shot turned out too! :)
      Oh, the joy of getting that perfect picture that you have had in your head, and then see it translate to reality!:D
      Will look forward to keeping in touch.

  • David says:

    Love the shot of the Manhattan – so colorful! And I the shot of the people on the bridge is so evocative – like we are there with them.

    • The Juicer says:

      Thanks David, so heartening to see your comments, always. Put my heart and soul into it, and nothing feels better than sharing my work with you and everyone else who visited.

  • Amit says:

    Thanks for the shots – they do reflect the blissful mood of the evening.. esp the Manhattan Skyline shot it’s simply intoxicating..:)

  • madhu says:


    from start to art in the sky, i did it in one sitting….well have to be honest here………….it’s not what i expected.
    it’s much so much better! loved the tone…i could practically hear you in my head.
    in fact i think one can feel you getting comfortable article to article. loved yr art in the sky bit, although relevant to a new york predominantly, never the less very engaging flow, even for an outsider. the pictures are very neat, especially the manhattan skyline and the crowd shot. keep it up girl……..who better than you!
    love you loads.
    p.s: “the juicer”….nice touch there!

    • The Juicer says:

      Thanks for the wonderful comments! :)
      You are right, I am getting more comfortable with every post- and that’s because I am trying to plan my work better.
      Oh, and time management! Blogging & working full-time can be tricky in that sense!
      I am getting into the groove baby, and I am glad you like the tune! :)

  • Lindsey Best says:

    Wow, yeah, beautiful shots!!! A little more exciting than my shot. I missed a fireworks show, unfortunately, and my shot was taken while I was driving. I LOVE your first (fireworks) shot though. Fantastic.

    • The Juicer says:

      Hey, couldn’t tell your shot was taken while driving! I guess we need to compare notes, come next July:)
      Thanks for the lovely comments!

      P.S. Dig the 365days theme on your blog. Will be following you on your journey! :)

  • jetstreamprojector says:

    I really like these shots of the fireworks. In some of them they almost look like canvas paintings. Very beautiful.

  • Tom Hardin says:

    I am still fascinated, at July 4th fireworks and have to impose a couple of questions. Do you shoot with tripod ?
    And how do you get the settings of each picture of your camera to upload to wordpress? Is it the camera or a particular way you upload them ?

    Tom in hot, humid, Texas , possible rain till nine tonight. Earlier Imissed lighting by 1/10th of a second, try again later if it poses.

    • The Juicer says:

      No- I do not use a tripod. Was thinking of doing so for the 4th of July shots, but then eventually didn’t. The light from the fireworks was quite helpful, and I just zoomed in.
      Regarding the settings- I have to type them out myself in the picture upload/edit box. Yeah, quite painstaking, and I am thinking of doing away with that. Maybe if I upload all pics to Flickr at the same time and link back there, anyone who is interested can check the settings there! Easier…

      The weather’s been clear here for the last week, phew! But hey, I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to click lightning which I haven’t really gotten a chance to! :)
      Do share when you’ve caught them in action!

      • Tom Hardin says:

        Forgot to tell you I was watching the same fireworks on TV. HAHA. Now will Flickr put the settings on each individual shot for you? Do you shoot in raw or tiff, I have been staying with jpg because of the newly found auto bracket setting on my old camera and what you can do with that in post editing.

        • The Juicer says:

          I hope you enjoyed seeing them a second time here! :D
          Yeah, Flickr uploads the EXIF data automatically. Which makes things super easy. I shoot in Raw & Jpeg. And I upload Jpegs online.

  • Neil Reid says:

    Another post-catching-up with you. Kinna fun. A lovely history I’m finding here.

    Of course, that shot of the gathered folks, I do adore. Would it be an intriguing idea to someday do a 4th of July shot of only people and their reactions, and let go the big show above?

    But I do like your fireworks shots here. Very much. Can’t even figure out the how or why of it, but these seem more of interest than any I’ve seen before. Small mystery. They feel very close. I don’t know. They remind me more of stars than fireworks. Nice work.

    • The Juicer says:

      Wonderful idea Neil, and I will definitely try that at the next opportunity I get. I do foresee a few challenges…like people not being comfortable being shot so up and close..but I will never know unless I try!

      Sometimes I click pictures, quite randomly, and to my amazement, realize interesting patterns/themes later. But on this occasion, I had determined beforehand how I wanted to shoot. The idea was to focus solely on the patterns that stood out against the dark sky. Like stars as you say, or like a splatter of paint as I put it:)
      I zoomed in on all of the fireworks shots, thereby displacing the perspective. Under-exposed quite a bit, so as not to get any of distracting fumes in the frame, and later post-processed just a tad, by increasing contrast and getting rid of any traces fumes that still remained. Glad the results intrigue you, and thankful that you are sifting through these pages… not so long ago, was it…but seems so :)

  • Tom Hardin says:


    I totally agree with Neil. Could very well be interesting to see the faces watching the fireworks. There could be a story behind that.

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