Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July

We had a very nice Independence Day, this year. It started out with an afternoon barbecue/picnic at some friends' home, and ended with a BANG! There were about 80 people at the picnic, and it was just a lazy, relaxing summer afternoon. We talked with friends, ate more food than we should have, and enjoyed watching the children have fun as only children can do.

A nice canopy for shade.

The barbecue chefs.

An abundance of good food and good friends.

A little guy tries his hand at croquet.

More croquet.

Chess -- a game that crosses the generations.

This little girl gave us an amazing performance, singing "Tomorrow" from Annie. I may be able to say, "I knew her when . . ."

And these girlfriends were just hanging out on the swing.

In the evening, I struck out on my own to the city fireworks show, which is held at the Balloon Fiesta Park. (Dan didn't care to go, and I was fine with that, since I knew I'd be glued to my camera the entire time anyway.) Knowing that traffic and parking would be a problem, I opted to take advantage of the Park 'n' Ride program sponsored by the city. A mere $1.00 per adult provided entrance into the park as well as bus transportation to and from.

The trip to the park was problem-free. I only waited about three or four minutes to get onto one of the comfortable air conditioned buses, and was at the park, picking out my space, in about a half hour. I was surprised at how many people were there. The park, which is the size of 54 football fields (78 acres), was just a sea of people, as far as the eye could see.

I got there well before the start of the fireworks. The sun was about to set, and the air was cool, with a light breeze. After the sun set, I saw a little sliver of a moon, toward the west.

The band, Blood, Sweat and Tears, were performing at the north end of the park, but I was not very close, so only heard the music drifting softly across the field. I got my camera set up on a tripod, made all the settings that I wanted to use for the evening, and spent an hour-and-a-half people-watching. It seemed every child had one type or another of those glow sticks, some in the shape of light sabers, others in rings or ropes. As the sky grew steadily darker, these glow sticks, spread across the acres, were a light show in themselves.

And then, what I had come for . . . the fireworks show! The pictures came out pretty good. Next time I might go for a slightly longer shutter speed, but this was my best fireworks photography to date, so I was pleased with my progress. I'll put a couple of them here, in this post; and additional ones can be seen HERE. (f8, ss 1 sec, ISO 100, manual focus at infinity, white balance = daylight)

Although the trip to the park went smoothly, the return trip was crazy. Since there had been activities going on all afternoon, people had arrived at the park at different times. But once the fireworks were over, everyone exited at once. I stood in line for a bus for almost an hour-and-a-half! It was 11:45 p.m. by the time I got home. Dan was still up, waiting for me, and wanting to see my pictures.

All in all, the day, for us, was spectacular . . . a fitting celebration for our nation's birthday.

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