The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

wrinkles formed

with 2 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an annual fireworks display in Astoria Park, usually right at the end of June. It’s staged for the 4th of July, of course, and there’s a band performance that precedes it. It’s a big draw for the neighborhood.

In 2022, it was presented on June 29th.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, there’s a pretty simple camera recipe for fireworks shots – f8/ISO 200/4-8 seconds shutter speed. You pick something distant to focus on, do a test shot to confirm focus and turn off the autofocus entirely, then set the camera run on auto for the duration. My camera has a built in intervalometer, which allows me to set it to just keep on shooting once I click the shutter button. I had the camera set to create an exposure, wait a second, and then pop out another, and another, and another.

The actual trick to fireworks photography relates to the same issue encountered during “landscape.” What’s in the foreground and how do you embed a sense of “place” in the image?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For these shots, what I was interested in getting were the two bridges – Triborough and Hell Gate – along with the fireworks. The last time I shot the fireworks show here, which was at least ten years ago, I made it a point of being right up along the waterfront so I could include the East River in the shots. Given the mobbed and crowded condition down at that location, I wanted to stay away from that sort of lockup.

I moved around a bit this time as well, which I would have precluded from doing down in the thick of things in the crowd on Shore Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were 10,000 people – at least – watching the show. It’s a big deal for Astoria, this fireworks show, and especially so after the last few years. People bring their kids, pets, and folding chairs along with coolers of beverages.

In the shot above, I was playing around with a few camera tricks. I used the focus stacking technique to combine multiple fireworks shells into a single shot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The show ended, and I sat down for a half hour at the skateboard park section of the larger Astoria Park, under Triborough Bridge. The crowds dispersed slowly, and I didn’t see any advantage at all in being part of an enormous human herd as it headed back towards 21st and 31st streets along Hoyt Avenue.

Fun night, with a cool neighborhood vibe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled his lonely path down Broadway back towards HQ and an inevitable late night in front of the computer spent developing these shots. Digital development occurs entirely within photoshop for me. I don’t lean heavily into my shots. I adjust horizons, do a bit of cropping, and correct the color temperature of the capture. I never, ever edit out anything in the shot as it would negate the journalistic integrity of the image. What I saw is what you see.

Something different tomorrow.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 3, 2022 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. I love Fireworks
    Shakes stuff up!

    Blow it all up. NOCNM

    August 4, 2022 at 5:21 am

  2. […] 4th fireworks shows – the Macy’s one in “thing therein,” and the Astoria Park one in “wrinkles formed,” looked like. A rental car allowed me to range pretty freely for a few days, first in “nervous […]

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