The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Today is the 5th of November, which means that it’s officially Guy Fawkes Day. Sadly Australia does not celebrate Guy Fawkes – in fact it is only really celebrated in Great Britain and New Zealand – although according to Wikipedia, South Africa & Canada also do something today “By the 1970s, Guy Fawkes Night had become less common in Australia. Some measure of celebration remains in New Zealand, Canada and South Africa”.
In 2010 I was in London on the 5th November, whilst I didn’t go to any fireworks displays that night, I did visit the Tower of London during the day. Exactly 405 years after the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
So why, pray tell, am I writing a blog post about something that isn’t even celebrated here? Well dear reader, let me tell you…
Guy Fawkes night means fireworks and I love fireworks. I always have – probably because my birthday is on the 6th November and as a kid I always use to think that we had fireworks because it was my birthday the next day – ok, to be fair when I’m in NZ at this time of year, I still like to think that 🙂
Of course, when I was a kid the fireworks were nothing like they are now – we use to have things like Tom Thumbs – which freaked everyone out and were quite rightly banned. The sale of fireworks in New Zealand is limited to around 3 days before Guy Fawkes, whereas you use to be able to buy them for weeks beforehand. There use to be fireworks going off around the neighbourhood for days leading up to the actual day itself, and long afterwards too.
In New Zealand, you now have to be over 18 and have valid ID in order to purchase fireworks. There are also official displays around the country that you can go along to. In Christchurch the fireworks display is held at New Brighton Beach on the Pier, which means that the New Brighton Beach becomes prime real estate on the night. My mum lives less that a kilometre from North Beach and has cars galore up & down her road with people parking and then walking the 10 or so minutes to the beach.
Most places have fireworks for different reasons throughout the year. Brisbane is no different, we have New Years Eve fireworks; finishing off the EKKA each night in August and of course the penultimate night of Brisbane Festival, the ever popular Riverfire.
Photographing fireworks takes patience, knowledge of your camera’s settings and a tripod. I’ve attempted to shoot fireworks over the years – more often than not, they don’t really work. Of the hundred’s of photos I have, there are probably about half a dozen photos that are decent. But that doesn’t stop me trying.
The best photos I ever took of fireworks where at EKKA in 2010. I took myself and my tripod to a car park rooftop opposite the show grounds. I actually was surprised to find there was quite the community up there. Here I was thinking I was being smart, but in fact I was a little behind the times. But the fireworks shots I got that night were definitely worth it.
I’d love to photograph fireworks more but unfortunately usually where there are fireworks, there are crowds of people and I don’t do crowds of people. Plus I am the least patient person around so spending time getting the perfect vantage point, setting up my camera with the correct settings and jostling with people to get that perfect shot, really does not appeal to me.
I guess I will just have to admire them from afar.
My best fireworks photos… all from EKKA 2010