Category: Kentucky

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.


Thunder Over Louisville Air Show and Fireworks Display, April 18, 2015

Thunder Over Louisville is the kick off event for the Kentucky Derby Festival and the largest fireworks show in North America. Thunder Over Louisville starts around 3:00 in the afternoon with a large air show and continues until almost 10:00 pm when the last burst of fireworks explodes in the Grand Finale.

Ohio River Floods Waterfront Park

Yesterday morning when the Ohio River crested I was on the Big Four Bridge to get some shots of the flooding.

Big Four Bridge at night

Waterfront Park Big Four Bridge at Night

Long time visitors to Speeddemon2 Photography know that I spent over a year and a half photographing the crew from T&C Construction as they converted the Big Four Bridge into a pedestrian bridge between Louisville’s Waterfront Park and Jeffersonville Indiana. At the time I thought that completing the bridge conversion was the final chapter in the building of Waterfront Park. Little did I know that it was simply another milestone in the plan by the non-profit Waterfront Development Corporation to give Louisville a signature park on the riverfront.

Big Four Bridge at night
Big Four Bridge at night

Not long after the bridge opened to pedestrians the folks at Waterfront Park launched a fund raising drive to light up the bridge with programmable LED lighting that would showcase the bridge at night. Now nearly two years after the first visitors walked up onto the bridge the Waterfront Development Corporation has once again surpassed expectations and finished the LED lighting project. The addition of these lights has really made the bridge a standout attraction for the city of Louisville.

Those of use who lived here in the 1970s fondly recall how the local FM Rock and Roll radio station WLRS would light the bridge with white light bulbs during the Christmas holiday season. At that time the bridge sat unconnected to either Kentucky or Indiana amid junkyards, ramshackle buildings, oil tanks and an asphalt plant. During the daytime our waterfront was a pretty ugly sight that greeted visitors to Louisville as they crossed the Ohio River on I-65’s Kennedy Bridge but at night, during the holidays, it was a magical transformation of light and form.

Thanks to the forward thinking of many people that image of Louisville has been erased and replaced with a truly amazing park. The way the bridge is lighted now really makes a statement about how beautiful this bridge is and how important it is to both Louisville and Jeffersonville. Now we have a wonderful park and can enjoy a view of the city that is simply amazing. The new lighting is capable of changing color and light patterns through programmed instructions. Not only that but there is also a sound system on the central sections that plays music which the lights are tied into and can change in time with the music.

Click on the image gallery to view these images in a larger light box slideshow.

All the images in this post are three frame brackets sets of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures that were merged into HDR images using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. After merging them I then took the resulting HDR image into Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS5 to finish processing it. I discovered that using this method really allowed me to show the way the light played across the bridge and filled the insides of many of the bridge girders.

All images in this post are available printed on .040″ aluminum using dye sublimation technology in either Gloss or Satin finishes. They are available in any dimension from 14″ to 96″ wide with an appropriate height

Use the form below to contact me for sizes and pricing.

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]