Fireworks on Lake Waramaug

Fireworks on Lake Waramaug

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Warren, Connecticut. I’ve been meaning to hike up to Waramaug Rock to watch the fireworks display on this lake for a few years now. I even went on a scouting trip last year to think about how to do the shooting.

I shot this fireworks display in 2005 from our town beach but there are so many people there I thought it would be more fun to get further away to a place where few people would go.

The problem with Waramaug Rock is that it’s a two mile walk in the woods to get up there. Not a big deal in daylight and I do the walk often but getting down at night seemed like it might be a bit more of a challenge.

As it was, the entire adventure went off without a hitch. Two friends came along and I packed camera gear, a small tripod, a foam pad to sit on, extra clothing, water, flashlight, batteries, first aid and of course, the iPhone. Enough to be safe.

The tradition is that at 9 pm each town and property owner lights road flares around the perimeter of the lake and the fireworks start at 9:30 pm. You can see the red flares in some of the images. A very generous individual who lives on the point right in the middle of the lake has not only allowed the fireworks to be staged from his property but he hires and pays for the pyrotechnicians.

We left the cars at 7:30 pm and were on top by 8:20 pm. Given that I’d never been up on Waramaug Rock (the Pinnacle) before on the 4th I wasn’t sure if others watched from there and I was hoping we’d have it to ourselves. As it was, about 15 young people (college age I’d say) were up there having a party but they were fine, not too loud and they had no fireworks. But, they forced me to find a new place to shoot and I’m glad that happened because I walked south along the ridge and found a better place to shoot, a bit sheltered from wind and with less hill in front to block the view of the lake.

I got all set up and was able to set the tripod up low so I could sit behind the camera with the remote shutter release and comfortably control things. I did some test shots before setting the camera to bulb, the AF to manual and focus to just shy of infinity (attempting hyperfocus), the aperture to f/11, the ISO to 100 (bumped up to 400 later).

I was afraid I might have trouble figuring out how to meter this situation because unlike typical city fireworks, the area around the lake is very dark and the fireworks bright. I used two meter settings, no doubt the wrong ones.

In some of the images you can see boats in the lake with their red and green lights.

The images are fine, nothing super duper but good enough to document what it looked like from up there. The important thing is that we had a blast and I hope to make this an annual tradition. Walking out was easy with flashlights; no one got lost, fell down, or got scared. We did talk loudly all the way down hoping to keep bears at bay.

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