Somehow, I still haven’t grown out of Bonfire Night. The prospect of hearing and seeing a sky full of colourful explosions is guaranteed to get me outside come rain or shine.
As a nipper, Guy Fawkes night was all about a small bonfire and an even smaller box of fireworks which Dad would ignite at a safe distance from us in the back garden.
There would be anxiety as the Catherine Wheel failed to spin on the post of the washing line and Dad gave it a helping hand as it spluttered sparks and gained momentum for the brief but riveting show.
As a parent, there was a similar back garden tradition which came to an end when one year, a fairly big rocket took off, decided to take a sharp left at about 8 feet and shot into next door’s garden – an unexpected late entry to their own firework display.
Since then, attending organised fireworks with rockets large enough to make the ground shake beneath your feet has been the annual custom.
This year, watching fireworks had an added dimension – it was also my photography class homework.
I had my basic instructions: tripod, remote shutter release, camera on ISO100, 4 second shutter speed and the aperture on f10 or thereabouts. Focus on infinity.
So I was all set up and waiting for action lens pointed across the dock basin towards the Regimental Museum and behind that the Cathedral Tower. The rockets at the display last year looked terrific going off with the Cathedral in the background and I assumed it would be the same this year.
A volley of colour resembling Roman candles on acid exploded into life on one side of the quay and I began clicking away but the first rocket explosion was heard but not seen. Another one went off… what the?!!
It was like the time my family went to Paris as a family and lost the Eiffel Tower. It may be tall and I know it sounds crazy but when you’re not very far away it’s wholly possible for a nearby building to hide the whole thing!
Then I caught a glimpse of rocket splendour behind the nearest warehouse. Curses! They were firing the rockets from the water meadows of Alney Island to the west of the Docks so they were going off in a completely different area of sky – an area I couldn’t see.
I re-angled the camera to take in the distant rockets but the warehouse buildings masked most of the action. It was great for the people standing on the east side of the Docks but not for me or the people around me.
So you live and learn…I had the instructions for taking firework shots but the one thing I forgot to ask was “Where exactly are they going to be?” Doh!
4/10. Could do better.