Empire State Plaza Fireworks, 2016 Edition

One rule of photography.  Always have backup plans.

Let me explain.

I had an idea to photograph the 2016 Empire State Plaza fireworks show from a faraway distance – perhaps over the bridge in Rensselaer, with high-powered lenses and such.  That way, I could get the entire fireworks show, with the backdrop of the ESP’s buildings.

In previous years, my attempts to photograph this light show have been mixed at best.  I’ve captured the show from the Eagle Street parking garage; it was sorta successful, but I was not happy that the buildings came out tilted in the photos.

I’ve set up right at the edge of the ESP’s reflecting pool, but then all I got were the explosions and very little of the buildings.

And my last attempt, in 2014, was strong, but it wasn’t as strong as I wanted.

Okay, let’s find some shooting spots.  If I scout good locations in the afternoon, I’ll have a great shot in the evening.

My first attempt was off the overlook at the Sports Grill in East Greenbush.  But my telephoto lenses were WAY TOO STRONG to get a decent photo.

Okay, next stop – the Amtrak station.  Surely I could get a decent photo from there – oh wait, too many other distracting buildings in the shot, and I didn’t need I-787 in the photo.  GRRRR

Okay, Miller, suck it up.  You gotta shoot at the Plaza itself.

6:00 p.m.  Luckily, I still had some parking tricks up my sleeve for the Plaza.  I parked in the Eagle Street garage, on the first floor near the Philip Street exit.  Got it.  Aces.

Next, I walked up Madison Avenue to the Empire State Plaza museum.  A table of Price Chopper T-shirted employees were checking people in to what I presumed was some private banquet area.

“Hi,” I said.  “Is there any possible way that I could – ”

“No,” was the curt interruption.  “This is a private event.”

“Yeah, I realize that, but all I need is an unobstructed view of – ”

“No,” she said again, looking at me with disgust.  “This is a private event for Price Chopper guests.”

Wow.  Guess I’ve been told.  So much for asking a favor.

Oh look, there’s the museum steps.  Maybe, just maybe…

I walked to the top of the museum steps, and looked for an available spot to set up my tripod.  Oh look … there’s one corner right near the far right.  A quick check to the people at left and right of the open spot – no, nobody else was using that spot, yes you can set up your gear here, nice to meet you – and I was locked into my location.  Shooting from the museum steps for the first time in my photographic fireworks attempts.

And after suffering through some 90’s cover band (the nicest thing I could say about them was that they stopped at 7:00 p.m.), and a 70’s disco cover band (which actually impressed me, in that they dug out old classics like “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life,” “So Many Men So Little Time” and “Give It To Me Baby”), it was time for the show.  9:15 p.m.

And off go the fireworks.

Empire State Plaza fireworks shot. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Empire State Plaza fireworks shot. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

And I got these images for my efforts.

The tripod was sturdy and strong; the battery gave a full, uninterrupted load of juice to every photo.  The Nikon Df operated like a champion; I was able to adjust my shutter speed and f-stop in a heartbeat to capture the fireworks blooms in spectacular fashion.

And the location?  Uninterrupted, unblocked, and unobstructed.  The Agency Buildings were lit with a fantastic glow.

And as my usual plan for escaping the Plaza – which almost borders on the attempts Snake Plissken used in Escape from New York – I was on I-787 heading toward the Town and Village by at least 20 minutes after the finale.

Told you that pre-planning works every time.

And you’re probably wondering… “Hey Chuck, didn’t you get the Corning Tower in the shot?  Didn’t you get the Corning Tower with its Price Chopper Market 32 illumination in the building’s windows?”

Well, you know, I could have gotten that shot with the Tower…

But I guess some Price Chopper employees didn’t want me to interfere with their private party.  Hey, I get it.  No skin off my nose.  #hannaford #shoprite #savealot #stewarts

And I know you want to see some photos.

Of course you do.

Here’s a little gallery of several of the best shots from last night. Hover your mouse over the photo until the flickr logo appears, then you can click the arrows to scroll through the gallery.


2016-07-04 Empire State Plaza fireworks//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Hope everybody enjoyed the Fourth of July.

Now it’s back to work.  We celebrate our independence from England … but we now commemorate our dependence on paychecks. 😀