Best of the Tetons

Snow King 4th of July Fireworks 2 2014

Fireworks 2014

A Collection of Standard and Abstract Images from JH Area Fireworks Shows

This year, I went to three different Fireworks Shows in our region. The first was held in Driggs, Idaho at Huntsman Springs, followed by a show at Teton Village, and lastly the display at Snow King in downtown Jackson. Each venue offered different results and each had different challenges. Having three chances this year helped hone some skills and techniques.

Huntsman Springs: Driggs, Idaho. ~ June 28, 2014


Huntsman’s Springs. This  fireworks display was huge! 2014 was the third year for the event. It was billed as the largest fireworks show in Idaho. Interestingly, I saw very few people from the Wyoming side of the Teton Range, and as it turns out, not many people over here even know the event is going on. There were a reported 30,000 – 40,000 people attending the event in an otherwise small town. Based on the traffic patterns, it looked like most were coming from Idaho Falls and eastern Idaho.


Hunstman Springs, Driggs, ID: I drove over and found a spot far away from the stage and club house. The crowd filled the fairway on the golf course—starting early in the day. The Beach Boys played at the stage with two jumbo trons on the sides. I was so far away, I could barely make out any details. As you can see in the photo above, I wasn’t quite prepared for how high the fireworks shot into the sky.


Huntsman Springs: It was very windy that night, causing the flares to stream across the sky. I would have expected dozens of photographers, but I was one of only three people with tripods I saw!


Huntsman Springs: It seemed there were large clusters of fireworks in the night sky the entire time.


Huntsman Springs: Fireworks were set off from quite a few different locations near the club house.


Huntsman Springs: It is easy to see the effects of the stiff breeze in this shot.


Beach Boys: At least two of the original Beach Boys were in this band. The concert and event was free to the masses of people in attendance. I could hear the music from hundreds of yards off and they sounded great. I took this image with a Nikon D4 and a 200-400mm lens. That lens turned out to be way too much for the fireworks, but was perfect for the shots at the stage.


Huntsman Springs: This is a shot taken with the 200-400mm lens. It seemed “unique” at the time, but I quickly went back to the shorter lenses.


Huntsman Springs: The fireworks were advertised as a 30 minute show. I don’t think it went on for the full 30 minutes, but close.


Huntsman Springs: Out of curiosity, I added a (four) star filter to the front of my lens for a few shots.


Huntsman Springs: With the extended fireworks display at Huntsman Springs, I had a few minutes to try adjusting the zoom over a long exposure. At the time, I had a 24-70mm lens on my D800, so I wasn’t able to “spin” the lens. The zoom option indicated I would expect some interesting results.


Huntsman Springs: I needed the zoom feature towards the end of the show. I had to keep stopping down the aperture while in manual mode as the night sky kept getting brighter. The finale was mostly white fireworks, but there were plenty of them!

Teton Village: Jackson Hole, WY ~  July 3rd, 2014


Teton Village: The newspaper informed everyone there would be a fireworks display on July 3rd at the Village. There was a free concert with Calle Mambo in the Commons near the base of the mountain. The lift operator at the Gondola said the top of the mountain was not a great place to view the fireworks. We made the trip up and back while waiting for darkness. It’s FREE after 4:30 PM. That has to be the best deal in town!


Teton Village: I asked around to find out where they’d set off the fireworks. About the best I could get was, “Out there in the fields”. I ended up driving back out to the main road at about the same time I heard the first blast, so I had to get set up in a hurry. I found a clear spot with no overhead power lines. I think it was the place I would have chosen even if I had hours to set up.


Teton Village: I shot with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 24-70mm lens. Since I was relatively close, I needed almost all of the 24mm range.


Teton Village: The fireworks show started a few minutes before 10:00 pm, allowing quite a bit of the “blue light” to influence the night sky. If anyone were to let me pick the time, I’d request the “blue light” time as it sets off the warm colors of the fireworks.


Teton Village: With only one lens and body, and fireworks going off as I drove up, I didn’t get to experiment much that night. I liked the roof lines lit up and the blue sky with clouds, so it didn’t feel like I was sacrificing anything. The fireworks display was reasonably long, but every one of them is over before you know it.

Snow King Resort: Jackson, WY ~ July 4, 2014

Snow King 4th of July Fireworks 2014

Snow King: This event has been going on for a long, long time! Even without much advertising this year, people came, set up chairs, threw out blankets and waited for the show. It is hosted by the JH Jaycees. They do fundraisers all year to pay for the fireworks, including a Pancake Breakfast on the Town Square on the morning of the 4th.

Snow King 4th of July Fireworks 2 2014

Snow King: With a long exposure of around 5 seconds, these hot embers streamed back to earth.

Snow King 4th of July Fireworks 3, 2014

Snow King: The Jaycees do a great job of keeping fireworks in the air.

Snow King 4th of July Fireworks 4, 2014

Snow King: A matching pair of fireworks.

Snow King 4th of July Fireworks 5, 2014

Snow King: You can see part of the crowd on the baseball field in this photo. I got to enjoy the fireworks, but from the back side of two cameras. They always pass by way too fast!

Abstract and Experimental Photos – Snow King


Snow King: Last December, I took my Nikon camera and a Nikon 70-200mm lens downtown to take photos of the Holiday lights on the Square. I added a star filter to the front of some and tried a variety of techniques over the duration of a long exposure. For some, I twisted the camera via the collar built into the lens. On others, I zoomed in or out to create Star Wars “hyperspace” streaks. I knew at the time, I wanted to try some of the techniques on moving fireworks.


Snow King: I had used a star filter on a few shots at Huntsman Springs, but didn’t pay attention to the orientation of the stars. Most of them were horizontal and vertical. Last night, I turned them to roughly 45° for an effect I preferred.


Snow King: After a few basic shots, I started spinning the camera. Unlike the Christmas Lights, the embers of the fireworks are moving in all directions along with the spinning action.


Snow King: Needless to say, it would be impossible to exactly recreate any of these images. I didn’t spend a lot of time “chimping” the back of the camera, as new fireworks were in the air.


Snow King: I saw an image someone else had done with some blurring on fireworks. After ingesting the concept, all I had to do was get creative with the various techniques.


Snow King: I wish I had two or three hours to experiment! Each one was different and exciting.


Snow King:  I didn’t “do anything” for this image other than zoom in tight and try to capture whatever was about to happen.


Snow King: Similar to the last image, I only focused on a spot in the sky. I like the star filter results on this one.


Snow King: Wind, long exposure and a perfectly placed extra explosion!


Snow King: Twist and Zoom.


Snow King: Camera movement


Snow King: Natural movement, with long exposures, zoomed in.


Snow King: I was panning across, then up on this one.


Snow King: Simple Pan. I was moving the lens “before” pressing the shutter.


Snow King: Panning.


Snow King: This was a fast pan on moving elements.


Snow King: I believe I was twisting the zoom ring on this one.


Web_OutOfFocus_July3Too bad we don’t get to see and photograph fireworks more often!  I’ve photographed them off and on for a few years, but I never really had much of an outlet for the images. The blog gives me that outlet!  If you happen to be in Jackson Hole during the Teton County Fair around the 18th of July, they blast off a few more. Additionally, we have fireworks on New Years Eve at both Snow King and Teton Village after the torch light parades.

After reviewing all of my images from this year, I have a few more thoughts in mind for next time. One: Go “out of focus” on purpose. Could be interesting! The photo on the left was a happy accident, but now I want to explore it more. Two: Do a few where I start out with a still capture for the first second or two, then do some zooming or panning. Three: I have a couple more of the star filters, like a six sided star, so it might be nice to try them. Four: I took all of the images above using a tripod. I’d like to try taking the camera off and try zig-zagging around with the moving fireworks particles. Five: I’d also like to climb higher on the mountain at Snow King and shoot through the fireworks and back towards town.

Time seems to go into fast motion when trying to photograph one of these events. Seems like you are just getting into the groove and they start the build up to the finale. Cheers! Mike Jackson

If you want to know how I captured these images, check out:  Photographing Fireworks : Tips and Suggestions.

Please share the page if you like it! MJ

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Comments (10)

  1. Mike –

    I saw the same fireworks last night but they looked nothing like the creative work you put together. Great job for some very special effects.

  2. Very impressive Mike. cosmic. and you must have had a lot of fun.


  3. Lowell Schechter

    Mike, these were outstanding fireworks images. In a place like this you really do not have to worry about extraneous light mixing in with the fireworks. I really like the different things you did to make more than just a fire works show. I agree with the other persons reply. Some of your images had a cosmic feel to them.

  4. I wish I had two or three times the amount of time to shoot at each of these events! I could easily double the number of photos on this page, but just picked a cross section of them. On the abstract versions, you have absolutely no idea what to expect when the 5 second exposure is complete. “Cosmic” was a term that came to my mind, too!

  5. Hi Lowell,
    I think the beauty of a post like this is how it can translate to every reader. You don’t have to live in the Tetons to get to photograph fireworks on the 4th!

  6. Other than the fact I am not sleep deprived, the “fireworks season” was well worth the effort. I like the challenge of getting past the technical portion, then getting into some of the creative aspects. We rode to Snow King on our bikes. I loaded my gear into a baby carrier. We were out of the crowd and traffic and back home in no time!

  7. Can only come up with one word to describe these fireworks images – OUTSTANDING!! The same goes to say for all of your other work!! As a frequent visitor to this site, I can say there isn’t anyone much better at capturing a park and it’s town better than you, Mike!!

  8. Very nice work Mike. Looks like the cat’s out of the bag. I’ve been developing this technique since 2011. Was kind of hoping to keep this technique a mystery for a while longer. The happy news is that like Snowflakes, no two are identical. It’s a fascinating art form to me and honestly we needed some exploration in this space.

  9. I have nothing to say but I love your pictures so so much and i admire you too.

  10. Brian, I am happy to hear you enjoy seeing the photos. It’s easy to fill a card here, so all I have to do is pick one or two to post here. Cheers, Mike Jackson

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