July 4th Fireworks in Lake Union

June 29, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

[Above image was added as a resultant image shot from near #3 spot on July 4th 7/23/14]

We are fortunate that one of the best fireworks performance is displayed in Lake Union every July 4th. Despite numerous reports on financial challenges for organizing the fireworks in Lake Union during last couple of years, it has been survived and continued presenting marvelous pyrotechnic performance. This Photo Note covers my experiences regarding shooting spot for this event including the location map and advantage/disadvantage list.

Fireworks shooting is set on a barge anchored at the middle of lake union. The actual location of the barge varies from year to year (even on the day of performance). The fireworks shooting location affects the composition and hence the photo shooting location (specific spot within Gas Works Park for instance) is important to plan ahead. I've shot from following spots in the past several years and following sections include some comments on each spot. Each has positive and negative aspect and the most desired spot needs to be determined based on the final expected image and composition. Obviously, the wind direction during fireworks performance significantly affect the result of photo image quality. It is recommended to find out the general wind direction before move to the shooting spot and be flexible.

Location Maps: Please refer to linked PDF files

For #1 through #3 in Gas Works Park

 
For #4 in South Alki

#1: Near lake shore in Gasworks park. Mostly wide lens is used to capture fireworks trails and space needle.

  • Advantage:
    • Able to capture Space Needle and Fireworks together.
    • Able to capture with water reflection.
    • Relatively less crowded and easy to occupy the spot with a tripod.
  • Disadvantage:
    • Difficult to capture entire fireworks when it become large.
    • Space Needle may turn the spot light off and can not capture with fireworks. (we don't know until that moment)

 

#2: Top of Kite Hill. Mostly very wide lens is used to capture fireworks and surroundings (Liberty of Stature head, and/or spectators)

  • Advantage:
    • Able to capture entire fireworks and and surroundings (Liberty of Stature head, and/or spectators, city buildings, space needle).
    • No obstacles if good spot is chosen.
  • Disadvantage:
    • Extremely crowded and difficult to maintain shooting spot without disturbance by the crowds.
    • Difficult to compose if desire to include spectators.

#3: Behind (North side of ) Kite Hill primarily capturing telephoto fireworks with spectator foreground.

  • Advantage:
    • Able to capture spectators in foreground while fireworks can be capture with longer focal length (150-300mm).
    • Very unpopular spot for most of spectators since it is behind Kite Hill and blocked the main performance.
  • Disadvantage:
    • Usually close to Honey Basket facilities and may smell bad. 
    • May miss the best composition as it is difficult to predict the fireworks angle and cannot see launching verge activities.

#4: South part of Alki, West Seattle

  • Advantage:
    • Very unpopular and easy to find the unobstructed and undisturbed shooting spot.
    • Able to capture with large Space Needle and fireworks and possibly a ferry boat.
  • Disadvantage:
    • Very limited compositional option and shooting angle due to far distance.
    • Unable to know activity in Lake Union.

 


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