2021 Fireworks, Part 3


Last July, I took some spectacular photographs of the fireworks at the Empire State Plaza.

But here’s a little secret.

I did not limit myself to using only one camera.

Let me explain.

Yes, I shot the lion’s share of the incredible fireworks show at the Empire State Plaza with my trusty Nikon Df camera and my super-wide Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. But my first fireworks shots were taken with a film camera – notably, my Kodak Medalist II shooter (“Kodak Red”).

And here’s the thing. I shot three rolls of film with that big beast. I shot pre-fireworks blasts by using a roll of AGFA Scala 200, which is rare E-6 black and white slide film. Then, I shot two rolls of fireworks blooms by using pre-packed rolls of Japanese-branded Kodak Dynachrome E-6 slide film.

So here’s the deal. Although I’m more than happy to use the great people at McGreevy Pro Lab for my film development, last year McGreevy dropped slide film development as an option.


So I had to send three rolls of film to two different locales. The AGFA Scala 200 film went to a developer in Indiana, DR5.com, who specializes in developing this tricky slide compound. Meanwhile, the Dynachrome rolls were sent off to Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas. Yep, Dwayne’s Photo. Haven’t used them since, what, back in the days of Kodachrome?

Dwayne’s Photo were the first to send me back my developed film. Of the eight possible shots I could have snagged with the camera, I claimed at least three decent fireworks blooms, including this one.

I mean, it’s okay, but I failed the first rule of fireworks photography. Don’t shoot fireworks while your camera is in your hand. Use a tripod.

Then yesterday, I received my second half of my film from DR5. And in that, I realized that I had violated the second rule of fireworks photography. Well, this is just photography in general. Don’t write down the wrong shooting speed when you send in your film to be developed. I shot this film at one ISO, but I wrote down a different ISO when I mailed it off. So yeah, this was my fault. Bad Chuck.

Yeesh. This is more faded than a bleach-washed Canadian tuxedo. It wasn’t until I tried to process this film that I realized I even scanned it in backwards. Bad Chuck. Bad, bad Chuck. No cookies or you.

Well, I’ve got shit here, let’s see if I could have put something together if I had shot both images more clearly.

I flipped the B&W film, I lined it up as best as I could with the color film strike, and …

Well … the idea is there, but the execution is abysmal.

Note to self. Do not give up. Try again. Pay more attention to your settings. And just remember, every failure now will turn into success later.

In other words, don’t give up. Not now.