Empire State Plaza 4th of July Fireworks, 2017 Edition

I got there.  I got the photos.  And I got away.

That’s usually the gist of my photographic excursions on Independence Day.

And I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

At least two weeks prior to Independence Day, I’m planning out my route of attack.  Where to set up, what cameras to bring, what lenses to use, this, that and this and that.

You really must prepare for events like this – you’re dealing with getting a good parking spot (both close to the Empire State Plaza and a quick escape route out of downtown Albany), you’re dealing with getting a decent shooting location (unobstructed view without anyone bumping your tripod), and enough shade to deal with a long wait until the fireworks go boom.

And although this was a routine procedure for me, I treated this photo shoot as a dress rehearsal for next month’s eclipse photography trial.  Trust me.  I only get one shot at the August 2017 eclipse, it’s not like I can expect an annual eclipse around Independence Day.


I arrived at the Empire State Plaza in plenty of time.  Found an available street parking spot on State Street, just at the intersection of State and Eagle.  And after promising one of the vendors I would buy waters and sodas from his food truck in exchange for letting me set up my camera gear behind his vending area – and right up against the fencing …

I’m set, Chet.

I looked at my watch.  2:00 p.m.  Plenty of time to sit and wait in 85-degree weather with varying clouds.

Now I wait.  I made it through various musical performances, the group Tonic performed both their hits – “If You Could Only See” and that other one – and I waited and waited.

7:00.  Sun’s setting.  I adjust my camera accordingly.

8:00.  My plan is working.  I just have to wait another 75 to 90 minutes for the fireworks.

8:45.  A couple of ladies walk up to my left side, place a blanket on the ground, and set up their own viewing area.  Okay, so long as you don’t bump my tripod, we’re all good.

9:00.  I look behind me.  People as far as the eye can see.  This place is packed like the Presidential inauguration crowd Donald Trump wishes he had.

9:10.  Three frat boys run up to the guardrail to my right.  They’re taking selfies and FaceTiming and whatnot.  And they’re jostling my tripod.

“Guys, please, just take a step over that way,” I said.

They nodded, and continued their “Hey folks look at us” run.  “Are you shooting video?”

“No, these are still photos.”

“Why aren’t you shooting video of the fireworks?”

“I want to shoot the fireworks as still photos,” I replied.

“You should really shoot video of them.”

Then come the fireworks.  First shots in the pipe.

Empire State Plaza fireworks. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Excellent.  I have to make a couple of small adjustments to the angle, and –

Bump.  One of the frat boys bangs into my tripod.  I catch the camera before it falls to the ground.

Damn it.

All right, Miller, what’s done is done.  Get as many shots as you can and plan a better shooting location next year.

Luckily for me, this was a good test run.  The Irix lens performed admirably, and I captured some amazing fireworks blooms.  Take a look and see.

Empire State Plaza fireworks, 2017. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.
Empire State Plaza fireworks, 2017. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.
Empire State Plaza fireworks, 2017. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Okay, let’s give this one a bit of an enhance … and …

Empire State Plaza, July 4 2017
Empire State Plaza, July 4, 2017. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.


Well now.  I can work with this.

So yeah, I achieved some decent photos this time around, and it’s definitely giving me impetus for my major photo projects later this year.  But I have to plan my route better next time.  Photographing the fireworks is a wonderful endeavor … but not when I’ve got frat boys bumping into my tripod at the last minute.  Damn frat boys. Probably all pledged the frat of Tappa Kegga Bru.

And in the end, I’ve got great photos and had a great time, all things considered.


5 thoughts on “Empire State Plaza 4th of July Fireworks, 2017 Edition”

  1. Gorgeous shots, Chuck! Have you considered editing out the Price Chopper/Market 32 “window treatment”? I don’t even know if that’s possible — the only editing I ever do to my photos is cropping.

    Next year you can take an Uber and avoid the parking hassle!


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