Photography is painting with light - you need light to make a photo, so in the purest sense what’s happening with fireworks is true photography. Long exposures and light… The camera will need to be steady, preferably supported by a tripod. You may get lucky without one, just lean your camera against a steady object, press the shutter and hold your breath. You are painting with light remember, so what if your light trails are a bit wobbly?
Choose a good spot, preferably with some foreground or water. Four to 15 seconds is a good starting point for shutter speed. Choose a depth of field of f/5.6 as a starting point, set focusing on manual, set white balance to daylight and your ISO to 100. Check your initial photos, and if they appear overexposed set the aperture to a higher humber (f/8 or f/11). If they appear underexposed, set the aperture to a lower number (f/3.5). A high ISO will make the sky appear grey, and we are after a black sky.
For you iPhone shooters out there, your options include a slow motion video, burst mode, or the Slow Shutter app. You will still need a tripod. The app gives you an immediate preview, so you can adjust. Use the Light Trails setting, put the ISO on Auto, and experiment.
Last week I photographed the ribbon cutting and grand reopening of the Cultural Center at Ocean Reef. Though we've all been there before, for twenty years, this moment represented an update.
While update means making new… restoring… refreshing, for me the cultural experiences I’m exposed to while working there, is nothing but new.
My camera allows me behind the scenes access to cultural events; the likes of which I had not even a clue existed. A couple years back, when the Philadelphia Orchestra asked me to photograph their musicians for use in their blog, I got to stand on stage during a warm-up for the evening’s performance. There I stood, frozen, mere inches from the musicians and the conductor, beside their instruments and close enough to read the musical score. Especially then, knowing when to click the camera, is like the etiquette of not applauding between the movements of a musical score… you have to do it at the right time. The slightest noise of my camera clicking would be enough to cause a distraction. When music is loud is usually the best time, and never any flash.
I wandered backstage through a makeshift assembly of tents, drapes and traveling instrument cases, those specially designed trunks that also serve as a personal dressing armoire. A musician told me he had been a musician with the Orchestra for 30 years; as a child he wanted to be a portrait painter, but when that didn't work out he learned of music, the classical kind, from a program on TV. And that was it… he became a musician in the town of Philadelphia that just so happened to have a great orchestra.
Just this weekend as I sat backstage drinking a coffee between performances, I was in the company of world renowned guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, as he bantered with the Quartet about jazz, the performers, the legends, their lives and their work. After a time, he looked at me and asked if I was there to take a picture. I said no… I am just enjoying being the fly on the wall. I told him If you were to ask me about my idea of a cultural event growing up in Fort Lauderdale, It would have been attending a world premiere at the Gateway Theatre of the movie “Where the Boys Are”. And the closest thing to an art show back then, would have been the Sandcastle Carnival on Ft. Lauderdale beach, where I watched as my father set up the PA system and my brother climbed coconut trees to position the speakers. Life. It’s kinda nice how things work out. As a kid I was able to experience the three S’s… sun, surf and sand, and as an adult I'm learning about the performing arts.
Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit. Growing up, we did have a chance for cultural exposure and events but we had to travel 25 miles west of town to the Hollywood Sportatorium. Built in 1969 it lasted just 22 years, and the good part about being older (and a little deafer), there we got to see all the great rock bands perform.
And thinking back to 20 years ago, prior to the Ocean Reef Cultural Center’s establishment, it was a minimum 40 mile drive to see a movie; it was a major social event to board a bus and take in a live performance in Miami. Today we have a venue with world class performances, and it is just a golf cart ride away.
Oh, and by the way, as the musician from Philadelphia told me, it’s feedback that tells the musician if he or she is doing a good job. It’s not the establishment… the supposed authority… it is the people, the audience that you move. Only they can decide if a musician has done well.
Now I just need to figure out when it is ok to applaud.
Or maybe I will just save it for the Beach Boys.
“Twenty-five years ago after hurricane Andrew, I told everyone that hurricane would be a once-in-a-lifetime event; now after Irma, I figure this means I’ve lived two lifetimes.” Ken Reda, Marine Max General Manager
On Monday, September 11th, the day after Irma flooded the the Fishing Village, and after his first glimpse of the result of more than 3 ft. of water in Marine Max, Ken was wondering what it would take to get back into business. The entire operation was affected. Inside the store, there was tackle floating in the aisles; outside, the boatyard launching office was flooded up to the second floor, and the storage yard dumpster had floated across the boatyard and onto the dock. Every space was affected. Bait, parts, sales and service and retail, and some $330,000 in inventory. With no electricity for the bait coolers, they were faced with the smelly reality of what do you do with pallets of defrosted bait and 60 cases of chum. They uncased it, removed the plastic and fed it to the fish! The following day they brought in generators to power lights and fans. On the Wednesday after Irma, they were able to launch the boats of the USCG Auxiliary and FWC. Ken said, “As we were cleaning the mold, we were trying to help those people, whose activities at Ocean Reef were very limited. When it came to boating, we wanted to say yes, even when everyone wanted to say no.” We were working on the premise: give the boaters what they want, need and expect, they will all understand. As long as the fishing is good.
Fast forward two months AHI, in the area they now call FISH TOWN, a temporary Marine Max, which opened Nov. 3rd, is located dockside, on 10 former parking spaces west of the Raw Bar. I happened upon it a few days ago, while on my “two month After Hurricane IRMA” photo tour. I couldn’t contain my excitement. This is a real fishing village. It is reminiscent of my hometown Ft. Lauderdale circa 1960… when all the bait and tackle stores were dockside. As a kid, we’d ride our bikes over the Las Olas Bridge, take a right on Seabreeze Blvd., past the fishing boats, and onto the docks in Bahia Mar. The live wells with shrimp and crab were always a source of fascination. Barb Perdue who grew up at Ocean Reef, shares a similar memory, as she recalls playing on top of the wooden bait boxes on the dock. (Her father Pete owned the marine store Perdue Dean).
After Irma, It was some clever thinking outside the box that got the boating community up and running. Ken Reda, General Manager and Robert Diaz, Operations Manager of Marine Max came up with a plan to use containers as a place to store the salvaged inventory, and eventually serve as an interim marine store. Not even sure it was possible, they defied all odds when they used their forklift to hoist the containers over a fence, and then stacked the containers two high, and then rearranged three different times, to minimize the impact of space. They installed temporary shelving for parts and retail, and filled them with inventory they were able to salvage.
The Marine Max “Tackle Shop” has been re-invented. The containers are well appointed with skin mounts on the exterior siding, and house a tackle shop, parts and service department and sales. It is not like shopping, where you stroll the aisles, but more like a concierge; ask and they will find what you need. There are tables with umbrellas for visitors to sit or share a fish tale or two.
Many members returning to the Reef, after seeing the Club for for the first time, tell me it looks pretty good. They say the Club “lowered our expectations”. I suppose because there are some pretty “high expectation” people running this place. It truly is amazing where we have come two months after hurricane Irma. The accompanying photos were taken Oct. 27 - Nov. 11, 2017. Carol Ellis
This photographic website provides me the opportunity for self-expression, for sharing