Thunder Over Louisville 2018

Yankee Doodle's Dream
Yankee Doodle’s Dream

Thunder Over Louisville, is the annual kickoff event of the Kentucky Derby Festival. The event is an airshow and fireworks display in Louisville, Kentucky. It is held each April, two weeks before the first Saturday in May, which is the day the Kentucky Derby takes place.

The fireworks display is the largest annual fireworks display in North America and started in its current location along the Ohio River in 1991 with fireworks, and the annual air show was added in 1992.

The fireworks show starts at 9:30 PM, along with a synchronized soundtrack through PA and radio. An average of 625,000 people have attended each year since 1997, lining the banks of the river in Louisville, and across the river in Jeffersonville and Clarksville, Indiana.

Just before sunset eight 400-foot barges are towed into place on both the east and west sides of the Clark Memorial Bridge launch the fireworks, provided by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, more fireworks are sent up from the bridge, as well as spectacular streams of fireworks cascading from the bridge deck, that symbolize Louisville’s location at the Falls of the Ohio River. The display goes on for nearly 30 minutes before culminating with a grand finale that creates the sounds of rolling thumder for several minutes.

I have been attending and photographing the Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show, since it began in 1991, from the Louisville waterfront. In 2018 I went across the river from Louisville and shot from a location beneath the John F. Kennedy Bridge and Abraham Lincoln Bridge on the riverbank in Jeffersonville, Indiana. I chose this spot because it allowed me to frame the scene with the Kennedy bridge overhead, the Louisville waterfront in the background and the silhouettes of the people in the foreground on the Jeffersonville, Indiana river bank.

I shot this year using a Nikon D7000 on a tripod using a cable release with the camera set to Aperture Priority and the bulb setting. Instead of determining a shiutter speed in advance I used a trial and error approach that included me counting down the seconds that I held the shutter open. I set the ISO to 100 and varied the aperture from f14 to f4; ultimately I settled on f6.3 which allowed me to use around 1.5 to 3 second exposures though a few times I used 15 to 30 seconds. When I saw, after a few test frames, that everything from five to fifteen seconds captured my vision for the scene; I simply adjusted the length of time based on my feeling for the amount of light that the moment called for. Though not very scientific but I found this method worked exceptionally well and allowed me to capture many more usable images than I had over the years of photographing fireworks.


Sunset on the Ohio River

I love the juxtaposition of the organic natural world to human engineering. 

Sunset on the Ohio River in Louisville KY.



Using Photoshop CC For HDR images

Louisville, Kentucky cityscape at sunset.
Sunset cityscape of Louisville, Kentucky as fall approaches.

With the approach of Fall, I have started photographing Waterfront Park and the Louisville cityscape as the season progresses. I am also experimenting with using Photoshop CC to merge my bracket sets because Google is no longer supporting the NIK HDR eFex 2 software. Even though I have used NIK HDR eFex 2 for nearly ten years I realize that it will eventually be obsolete due to advances in both computers and operating systems. Rather than continue to work in NIK HDR eFex 2 I know it is time for me to find a viable solution to my desire to shoot and process HDR images. Adobe Photoshop CC does an excellent job of merging bracketed images.

For these images, I am using Photoshop CC layers and Topaz Clarity as a final layer to fine tune the contrast and color in the finished images.

Abraham Lincoln Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky.
Piers under the Abraham Lincoln Bridge at sunset. The shoreline is Waterfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky.

In this image I wanted to shoot from Indiana back across the river to Kentucky under the Abraham Lincoln Bridge. I set up my tripod just before the sun dropped below the horizon and hoped to get some good light on the piers that support the bridge. I was also taken by the rose color of the light and how it lit the forms of the piers. The sky was very pastel along the southern side of the river and I wanted to capture that feature of the sunset; as an additional element I felt it was important to include the clouds on the left to balance the composition.

This image too is a three frame bracket merged in Photoshop CC and then opened in Adobe Camera Raw to make most of my basic image adjustments. Once that was done I returned it to Photoshop CC and added an additional layer that I used Topaz Clarity as a filter to fine tune the final contrast and color.

Sunsets on the Ohio River

Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy Bridges at Sunset

Earlier this week I went down to Waterfront Park to shoot the sunset from the Big Four Bridge. We have been having a lot of rain this winter and sunsets haven’t been very interesting so when I saw that maybe the clouds were going to be colorful I thought I’d give it a try. January sunsets aren’t usually very intensely colorful but the evening offered some nice color.

Waterfront Park Swing Garden

Lincoln and Kennedy Bridges

Lincoln and Kennedy Bridges in Black and White.