South Padre Island night shoot. June 13, twenty 11.

This past Friday, I joined a couple of friends and ventured across the bridge over to South Padre Island. Our goal was to photograph fireworks (during the summer, the island puts on a weekly fireworks display). While we missed the chance to photograph any fireworks, we were able to produce something much more enjoyable…and heck, we even learned a thing or two!

Once we got to the island, food was desired, so we went to the South Padre Island Brewery for dinner. While I won’t comment too much on this particular experience, I will say I’ve enjoyed better meals there. Now, the fireworks started “promptly” at 9:15 PM according to an SPI events site. Our food was (finally) delivered about 9:10 PM. I assumed that the fireworks display would be at least 45 mins to an hour, plenty of time for us to eat then grab our gear and take some photos.

To my surprise, promptly at 9:15 PM, I heard someone yell: “Fireworks are going off!” Sure enough, I looked over my shoulder to see some bright displays of light and spark. Luckily, all we had to do was walk outside and we would have been in a decent spot to grab some shots; not the greatest spot, but it would have worked.

Maybe 10 mins later, the fireworks stopped. We were still eating.

Granted, this was the first “fireworks event” of this summer, but I still expected them to last longer. Oh well. We finished eating. Paid. Then went driving around.

After driving around and passing a few road-block signs – which I ignored – we decided to stop and try some night photography on the beach. We started shooting about 11:00 PM.

Now, this was probably my first real attempt at long exposures. Sure, I’ve taken some shots around 5-10 secs or so, even some closer to 30 secs; most of my exposure this night were 1 minute plus. It was also fairly dark – just the moonlight and the few cars that passed.

Here are some of my favorites (exposure length, aperture and time captured is listed below each image):

148 seconds, f/8.0, 11:30 PM

72 seconds, f/8.0, 12:34 AM

282 seconds, f/8.0, 12:42 AM

157 seconds, f/11, 12:10 AM

72 seconds, f/8.0, 11:55 PM - cold tone filter in Lightroom 2.7

72 seconds, f/8.0, 11:55 PM

All images shot with Canon 5DMK2 and 35 1.4L lens at ISO 800.

Edited with Adobe Lightroom 2.7.

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  1. Nice shots man, I need to make a road trip down your way soon. I miss the coast.

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