Red, white and yikes!


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 17-55mm @ 28mm. Exposure: 1/10th sec. @ f/11 w/ Dyna-Lite strobes. ISO: 200)

Last week, I shot this patriotic cake for a story on foods for the 4th of July. My idea was to light off several sparklers around the cake, made by Record reporter JoAnn Kirby, for a festive look. Problem was that, Stockton, being a “dry” city, in terms of fireworks, was finding the sparklers. The cities that did allow fireworks wouldn’t be selling them for several days after the shoot was scheduled for. The Record reporter Lori Gilbert and copy editor Kevin Hecteman said they had stashes left over from last year and said they would bring them in.

I set up my lights in the Record’s studio and then I stuck six sparklers into some Pla-Doh just behind the cake. With a match, I lit a seventh sparkler which I planned to use to light the others. However, I hadn’t made a plan to dispose of the extra sparkler. If I just waited the few seconds for it to burn out, the others would nearly be out too but I couldn’t just set it down, lest I burn the table the cake was on. So with my right hand I brought up the camera to my eye and shot, and not wanting to turn my hair into a Roman candle, I held the sparkler with my left hand as far from my head as possible.

I had enough sparklers left for one more attempt. This time I got a cup of water to douse the igniting sparkler. I shot the last set up and then was done. A haze filled the studio, not enough to set off the smoke alarms, but noticeable, and I thought it better to have a smoky room than some smoky hair.

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