2017 Firework Displays in Detroit and Pittsburgh


We have reached that time of year again, the dog days of summer and that inevitable halfway point between summer and fall. This year, I captured fireworks displays in both downtown Detroit and Pittsburgh, PA. Every year I like to find another vantage point that I had not captured before. In Detroit, I photographed the Ford Fireworks from a parking garage roof on Wayne State University’s campus. A stunning sunset behind us kept us entertained until the fireworks show commenced, here you see the Fisher Building with the beautiful fuchsia color illuminating the sky. 

As the fireworks display started…so did the rain! Thankfully we had rain ponchos and umbrellas to keep the camera equipment and ourselves relatively dry throughout the show. It was my first time shooting fireworks in the rain and it was a bit difficult, but I think I captured a few interesting images, given several of the photographers who were on the parking garage roof with me dashed for their vehicles and missed photographing much of the display. As an avid weather watcher (when you work at art fairs you are always watching the weather), myself and everyone else did not see the rain coming, otherwise I think more would have been prepared. As they say, there is always next year! Below are the top three images from the evening.

To purchase any of the fireworks prints in this post, you can find the Detroit images here and the Pittsburgh images here.

I recently completed a 6-day trip to Pittsburgh (the subject of my next blog post!), the last day of our trip happened to fall on July 4, and downtown Pittsburgh also has their annual big fireworks display on that day, a fortuitous coincidence for us! So of course we incorporated our trip into shooting the fireworks. Since I have never captured the fireworks in Pittsburgh before, I had a bit of research to complete before choosing a good vantage point to get a wide display of the city. We decided on West End Overlook, which offers a high viewpoint of the city and far back enough to get that wide view. The fireworks barge launches the fireworks in front of Point Park, where three rivers come together (its small in my images, but you can see the Point Park Fountain at the very tip of the park in the background).

As mentioned before, given we were new to shooting fireworks in Pittsburgh, we didn’t know what the crowd situation would be at the overlook. We didn’t want to take any chances of not getting a good spot so we arrived five hours before the fireworks commenced. Sure, it sounds a little overkill, but we didn’t want to miss out. We brought a blanket and a cooler and made a picnic of it.

There was a beautiful sunset before the fireworks, but the sunset was the on opposite end of the sky from the city, so instead you see the fuchsia color reflecting off the One PPG building during blue hour.

I have to admit…the Pittsburgh fireworks were far better than Detroit’s. One reason is that I liked having more interest in the foreground from our vantage point, such as the river and boats. Second, the variety of fireworks was far superior, by the end of the show I was starting to try different creative camera settings because I had already captured so many different displays. But I’ll let you be the judge which was better.


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