Thursday, November 12, 2009

Benign dictatorships and firework displays

click photograph to enlarge
When I am made supreme leader and rule as the benign dictator of UK plc I will pass an edict. This will say that all celebrations of events that are linked to a single date must happen on that specific date and at no other time. There will be those who will eulogise my wisdom and perspicacity (mainly the over 50s and pet lovers) and there will be others who will condemn me as a reactionary, careless of the needs of children, families and workers, who tramples freedom to secure his own narrow interest. To the former I will smile, wave and accept their kind words and enlightened attitude: the latter will be reminded that they live in a dictatorship which is currently benign but could become a little more traditional if they don't quieten down!

And now back to our normal programming! My flight of fancy above is prompted by this year's Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. This annual event recalls the downfall of the Gunpowder Plot of 5th November 1605, in which conspirators (including Guy Fawkes) were thwarted in their attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. This year 5th November fell on a Thursday. On that night some people had the traditional bonfires and fireworks. However, others waited until Friday 6th November to do this, presumably because the following day was a Saturday and (for many) not a working day. But, many had decided that Saturday 7th was an even better day, and so there was a third evening of whizzes, bangs and flashes, accompanied by the smell of bonfires in the night air. Why does it matter if the event is spread over three days? Well, in so doing it becomes a little less of a celebration of a specific date. Then there's the extension of the din of fireworks over a longer period. And finally nervous pets have three nights of cowering whilst the explosions echo around the streets, rather than just the one. I recognise I'm probably in a minority on this one, but this stretching of festivities over a couple of nights is something I've known happen at New Year too.

Today's photograph was taken on SATURDAY 7TH NOVEMBER at the fireworks display on Blackheath, at Greenwich in London. We went there at the suggestion of my son. The last time I took a photograph of fireworks it featured him and his younger brother making sparkler patterns, and was taken with the OM1n. This image is from the LX3, which once again did a fair job in difficult circumstances. I was quite pleased with my composition here. I decided to include the tree, street lights and the silhouette of a near onlooker at the bottom left to balance the aerial bursts of the fireworks that I put on the right. It seemed a reasonable device to get away from the usual shot with a central focus of interest.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.2mm (48mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.6
Shutter Speed: 1/13
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On