Fin’s 1st 4th: Fireworks

For the past 3 years we’ve lived in prime fireworks viewing territory, perched just above the Rose Bowl, which boasts the most spectacular fireworks display in SoCal.  Yet, every 4th we spend in Lake Arrowhead with the Core watching the show from our boat on the lake.  This year we were fortunate enough to enjoy fireworks in Arrowhead on Sunday and to finally see the 4th show from our house on Monday.  Hooray.  With my tripod set and my camera in manual mode with my f-stop to f/11 and my shutter speed set to 4 seconds (these are the can-do settings to capture fireworks), I was ready.

At about 8:45 p.m. the sun set and fireworks started to fly all over the Southland.  Fireworks, of course, are banned in Los Angeles County, but a little thing like the law won’t stop us Americans from celebrating our patriotism (ironic, no?).  Mini shows sprang up from houses far and wide.  Our view covers the Rose Bowl to Downtown Los Angeles and we were treated to fireworks displays from the Dodger Stadium to Disneyland. july-4th-1-of-7

Here’s our view looking Southeast towards Disneyland: july-4th-2-of-7

Here is the view looking Southwest to Downtown.  You can see the Dodger Stadium fireworks in front of the Downtown skyline: july-4th-3-of-7

At 9:05 the Rose Bowl show began.  From our view the fireworks were actually eye level.  Colors popped and fireworks boomed right before us.  The show was amazing.

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And Fin?  For a first-timer he did remarkably well.  Though it was an hour past his bedtime and he was cranky from teething, he was mesmerized by the lights and smiled and laughed as they exploded.  He wasn’t afraid of the noise, and watched nearly the whole show from Dad’s lap or sitting on his shoulders.  Our little boy is now an inducted patriot.

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Happy Birthday America.

Tummy Time: Daniel, 4 months

I hadn’t seen my nephew since before Christmas and in that short span he has become a brand new baby.  Fully aware and interactive, when I walked in to reunite with the little guy Daniel was on his back exploring his first play gym.  He peered at me from behind a small stuffed bug, and with wide eyes, mesmorized, he stared quietly but knowingly at everybody in the room for several minutes, just taking it all in.  For the first time I felt that he recognized me, because he stared for a while, blinked his eyes, and then smiled when he seemed to remember who I was. One smile and I had to remind myself to breathe.  Already the little heartbreaker. [SinglePic not found]

Daniel is in a hurry.  He’s only 4 months old but is already wearing the 6-9 month clothes.  He’s also in a hurry to start crawling, as he becomes visibly frustrated when he’s placed on his hands and knees but can’t yet seem to propel himself forward.  Defeated, he plops over onto his back and starts grinning again.  The knowledge building inside his brain feels almost palpable, as you see him trying to put it all together.  Every day brings the chance for Daniel to observe and assimilate a million knew things about this wonderful world.

Wild About Bokeh: Daniel at 2 Months

One thing I’m learning quickly as a fledgling photographer is that nothing makes up for skill and the ability to capture a sharp photo, but a really good lens can help you fake it, for a while at least. These days I’m playing around with aperture and depth of field.  The lens I’m loving right now is my new 50 mm f/1.4.  The wide aperture value produces a shallow depth of field, so you achieve the marvelous blurred backgrounds that make portraits pop. (Photography nuts call this “bokeh”, pronounced bo-kay).

To practice with my new lens, I enlisted the help of my nephew, Daniel.  At 2 months old this was his first photo shoot, with me behind the camera anyway. Already a ham, he loves the camera as much as it loves him.  daniel-7-of-7 My father, the proud first-time grandpa, kept Daniel entertained while I snapped away from every angle, because my philosophy at this point is that if you shoot enough you’re bound to get a good one on occasion.  The “shoot constantly” method helped me capture the third picture, where you can really see the resemblance between grandpa and grandson (hint: it’s all in the tongue). 

(Click on a photo to enlarge)