2015 Celebration of Light

I have been putting off this blog post for the past month and a half and finally got around to finishing it! This year marked the 25th annual Honda Celebration of Light which happens in English Bay, Vancouver. For those of you who may not know, the Celebration of Light is a firework show that spans over three days, and three separate countries battle it out to have the best firework show (all of which is synced to music). Similar to last year, I had the chance to attend all three days and had a great time!

CHINA

The first country was China and I was really looking forward to their show, expecting to be blown away by their performance. For the first night I decided to head down to Vanier Park and set up right by the waters edge. At first it looked like it was about to start raining as it was completely overcast but luckily it did not rain. It was very cloudy but this resulted in quite an epic sunset!

China Celebration of Light Beautiful Sunset over Vanier Park

I wasn't able to get any great firework shots from China's performance which may have been because of the overcast weather which resulted in some unflattering lighting. However, I did manage to get one mediocre shot through (not my favorite but I had to include one). 

China Celebration of Light Firework Burst

Overall, I was quite disappointed by China's performance and found it to be quite lackluster with nothing really standing out. I also wasn't a huge fan of this particular location and will probably not be watching future firework shows from this spot. After the fireworks had ended, my friends and I decided to stay back and wait until the crowds had died down as traffic would inevitably be backed up. While waiting, I decided to try my hand at a timelapse. This particular timelapse was made from 192 photos that were each 5 seconds long, which translates to about 16 minutes. At 24 frames per second, this resulted in a very short 8 second video of the boats leaving English Bay. 

We were planning on staying there for a while and I would have made a significantly longer timelapse but for some reason we were told to leave the area by the RCMP (even though we were just sitting doing nothing). All in all, the first night of the Celebration of Light was a bit disappointing but I was looking forward to the other two nights.

BRAZIL

Brazil was the second country to go and I honestly was not sure what to expect and had zero expectations going in. For this night my friend and I decided to head down to Jericho Beach and I was hoping to get a nice firework shot with the Vancouver skyline in the background. This was my first time watching the fireworks from this location and I was really looking forward to seeing the fireworks from this new vantage point. After looking for a few good spots we ultimately ended up sitting right in front of the water and had a perfect view of all of English Bay and Downtown Vancouver. For the past few years I have been meaning to take a panorama shot of Downtown Vancouver from Jericho beach (during Blue Hour of course) and I finally got my chance! 

Downtown Vancouver from Jericho Beach

A couple months back I had gone to Jericho Beach to take some photos of the Vancouver Skyline but unfortunately all of the photos ended up very blurry because of the atmospheric distortion which rendered the photos unusable. This time however, I was able to get a good shot of the Skyline prior to the start of the Fireworks and I am very happy with the final result! Unfortunately right before the fireworks started, a giant boat decided to dock right in between the barge and us, and we thought that it might have ruined the photos. Luckily the boat actually worked out for the better and added an interesting element to the firework photos!

Once the fireworks started, I was absolutely blown away by Brazil's performance! It was just non stop, epic and colorful bursts one after the other!

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Downtown Vancouver from Jericho Beach lit up by Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

 Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Downtown Vancouver with a Firework Burst

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

Brazil Celebration of Light Fireworks

The Finale

I was absolutely blown away by Brazil's performance and I think that it was probably one of the most incredible firework displays that I have ever seen! Just when I thought it was over, Brazil unleashed an incredible finale that just left my jaw on the floor. 

Brazil Celebration of Light Finale GIF

I took some of my best firework photos during that night and Brazil absolutely outdid themselves! I really wasn't sure how Canada would do in comparison, but as of that moment Brazil's firework display was one of the best that I have ever seen!

CANADA

The final night of the Celebration of Light Firework show was done by Canada and they really had some big shoes to fill after Brazil's amazing performance. For the final night, my friend and I decided to head up to the Burrard Bridge which is one of my personal favorite locations to watch the fireworks from. We got there very early in order to secure a good spot and managed to get a great spot right in the middle of the bridge. We set up our cameras, sat down and waited. Over the course of a few hours I was taking photos at different intervals (every 15-20 minutes or so) and when looking over the photos on my computer I thought they would look cool as a short gif. I wasn't planning on making the photos into a gif but I really like how the end result turned out!

English Bay timelapse

Canada's fireworks started off great, but as the show progressed something very unfortunate happened. ALL of the smoke from the fireworks decided to blow directly towards the Burrard Bridge and the city which completely obstructed our view of the fireworks. By the end of the show I was unfortunately only able to get one good photo of a firework burst (which I am really happy with) but all the other photos didn't turn out that great.

Canada Celebration of Light Fireworks (The smoke kind of reminds me of a dragon for some reason)!

The rest of Canada's firework display just got more and more obstructed by the smoke and by the end of the show the fireworks were pretty much completely engulfed by all the smoke, as evident by this GIF.

Canada Celebration of Light GIF

This was certainly very disappointing and quite a let down and by the end I wasn't sure if Canada's performance was better or worse than Brazil's. For the last two years, I have always looked forward to taking long exposure shots of the boats leaving English Bay and also the helicopter that flies over English Bay once the fireworks end. Most photographers seem to leave right away but this is my personal favorite time to take photos as you end up with some very cool results! I feel like each year that I have taken these long exposure shots, I have taken a better shot than the previous year. This photo was from 2013 and happened by complete mistake as I was not planning on taking this shot and just happened to have a long exposure shot while I was bracketing some exposures.

English Bay Light Trails 2013

After getting such a unique (and random) shot from 2013, I headed back to the same location in 2014 and luckily was able to get an even better shot than the previous year!

English Bay Light Trails 2014

Even though the smoke had been quite disappointing for Canada's performance, I was still looking forward to taking that signature long exposure shot. After a few attempts it wasn't looking very promising as the smoke had become very thick and completely reduced all visibility. I took a few shots and they each came out very hazy with zero visibility of anything. I kept taking a few shots and finally the smoke had cleared a little bit and I was able to take this shot which I am extremely proud of!

English Bay Light Trails 2015

The smoke from the fireworks gave the photo a very unique look as it added a lot of depth to the final image. This photo was made from 3 photos but the main photo's exposure was over 5 minutes long. In my opinion this year's long exposure shot is my best one to date and I look forward to trying to beat it next year! All in all this year's Celebration of Light firework show was a lot of fun and my personal ranking for this year's performance would be:

  1. Brazil
  2. Canada
  3. China

Now of course the smoke was a huge factor in my decision and I'm sure that if the visibility was clear Canada would have surely been my favorite as they were the actual winners of this year's competition! I personally enjoyed Brazil's performance the best and I certainly think that it was the best firework show that I have ever seen. But a big congratulations to Team Canada for winning this year's Celebration of Light Firework competition, I look forward to next year!

As mentioned earlier, I have been putting off this blog post for the past month and a half and I finally got around to posting it! It took quite a bit of work to edit all the photos, gifs and the video, if you enjoyed reading through and looking at the pictures, let me know!