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2018: Year in Pictures by David Carson

From the 2018: The Year in Pictures from Post-Dispatch photographers series
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Fair St. Louis Fireworks back at the Arch

Fireworks explode over the Mississippi River in front of the Arch in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Pictured to the bottom left is the newly opened museum entrance to the Arch. Photo by David Carson,

I love watching fireworks. I hate photographing them.

Alright, maybe hate is a bit of an overstatement but for me, photographing fireworks on a tight deadline for the next’s day’s front page is among the most stressful of assignments. There are just too many variables. How high, bright will the fireworks be? What’s the exposure of the other elements in the photos? Can I get an internet connection to send the photo to the page designer?

All these challenges need to be solved on the fly as bursts sound and color fills the sky. Each concussion of the bursting shells is like seconds ticking off the clock as you adjust exposures and pray you’ll figure it all out to make as least one photo.

Picking your spot to shoot from is the most important part. In the months leading up to the Fourth of July, I scouted several possible locations. We ended up on the 19th floor of One Memorial Drive, which provided a great view of the Arch and the newly opened visitors center, which needed to be in this year’s photo.

For photo geeks out there, this image was shot with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a 16-35mm lens that was set to 20mm. The camera was mounted on a magic arm and clamped to a railing on a balcony overlooking the Arch. The exposure for this image is 8 seconds at f11 with the ISO set at 250 and the color balance was set for daylight. It was shot as RAW image file.

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Special thanks to Tom Nagel at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation and the people at Jefferson National Parks Association who helped me get the access I needed to shoot the photo.

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