A short history of my experiences with fireworks…
Age 8 – I watch the town’s 4th of July firework display with a friend and her family. I am the only one who stays out on the blanket by herself watching. All the other girls retreat to the car and the protective arms of sympathetic adults. I am not afraid because I know that my dad is one of the men shooting off the fireworks. He loves them, so I do too.
Age 15 – My friends and I learn to shoot off pop-bottle rockets by hand. That is, holding them in our hands until the fuse is almost gone and then tossing them up into the air where they take off. Good times.
Age 19 – Home from college, my dad lets me light the fuse for some of the big fireworks in the town display. I hypothesize that I am the only person of the female gender to have ever done that in my town’s history.
Age 20 – Summer stock theater. I convince the student in charge of the scene shop to let us off early on the 3rd. We drive to South Dakota to buy fireworks, then illegally transport them back into Iowa. Steve gets a speeding ticket on the way back because I take too much time looking around the fireworks stand. We are late for the evening performance. Everyone complements me on my amazing firework display the next night at the bonfire.
Aside: if you are one of the 5 guys that I went to college with, thank you for putting up with me. You were much more gracious than I had any right to expect. Seriously, I was insufferable and you were still nice to me.
Age 23 – Denver, Colorado. I watch fireworks from the back of the theater’s loading dock with the other carpenters and feel homesick.
Age 30 – My brother shoots off about an hour’s worth of fireworks in my parent’s front yard. This batch is illegally transported in from Kansas. It is the last night we are all together.
I still love fireworks. They have an elemental, savage beauty; both celebration and destruction in one.
These photos are the work of David Johnson. They were taken at the International Fireworks Show in Ottawa, Canada at the beginning of August. He gave an interview to This is Colossal about how he created such amazing images:
“The technique I used was a simple refocus during the long exposure. Each shot was about a second long, sometimes two. I’d start out of focus, and when I heard the explosion I would quickly refocus, so the little stems on these deep sea creature lookalikes would grow into a fine point. The shapes are quite bizarre, some of them I was pleasantly surprised with.”
These images capture the magic of fireworks better than any other photos that I have seen. They are breathtaking.
All images from David Johnson’s website
via This is Colossal