High on the roof tops of the David Broderick Tower in Detroit, Michigan is an incredible experience to witness the fireworks of the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival. I feel safe to assume this is the largest fireworks show in the local area they are spectacular!! This was shot in 2009 and at the time Broderick Tower as abandoned and a contact knew the owner and provided us access. They beauty of an abandoned building is you get to have a great work out…thirty-three stories up with 50lbs of gear on your back. My friend Eric was with me and the dude loves to complain, every step up was another complaint. We made a few stops on the way and I was laughing at him most of the time. For years I have shot with Eric and this is how he always rolls. He is a good dude and a really good photographer. I would link his website but he doesn’t have one.

The fireworks tradition began in 1959 and was sponsored by J.L. Hudsons until early 2000’s. Now Ford Motor Company is one of the biggest sponsors and they have maintained the tradition beautifully. The event now called The Windsor–Detroit International Freedom Festival has also been called International Freedom Festival as well as Windsor Summer Fest, Detroit River Days and Annual International Target Fireworks Show. The event usually falls on the Monday before the 4th of July and over a million people a year attend. It is one of the best events of the year to attend.

David Broderick Tower

I went right to the roof and took a look around and felt the rook was slightly to high for a perspective I would like. I climbed down a couple of floors and found that I really liked this angle better. I had time to kill as the fireworks had not started yet. I walk around the floor and lucky me The Detroit Tigers were in swing at Comerica Park! I have shot the Friday Night Lights Fireworks at Comerica before but this was a Monday and the only fireworks in town was the big ones. I love the view of the stadium and even better you get a glimpse of Ford Field the home of the Detroit Lions. I am a pretty big Lions and Tigers fan and it has been difficult watching these teams struggle over the years. We have amazing beautiful stadiums for them and I hope we can build some championship teams to go with them.

Comerica Park and home of the Detroit Tigers

Once I finish shooting the stadium I move to the south west side and find a great spot and aim my lens out some broken windows. I did come prepared with some snacks and a little bit of Crown Royal…it is the Windsor–Detroit International Freedom Festival you know! My friend Eric was on the roof with maybe a dozen other people and I was enjoying the peace and quiet I had here. The part I loved about being up here was the sound of the city from high above. The cars and sirens radiate between the buildings and it all goes up. From up here you can see the ants marching and how everything moves around.

David Broderick Tower

With so many colors and fireworks shooting off I wanted to get something with the red and blue. Looking back I wish I would have shot some more tighter and wider shots. I always try to get a safe shot to start and then get a little jiggy with it. Shooting fireworks can be difficult as you have to time it out. You have to kinda guess when and where the explosions will erupt and then hope you have all the settings planned out. Focusing the camera can also be a nightmare. I prefocused and set a deep aperture and locked down on a tri-pod. I put the camera into bulb mode and have to trust the histogram from here on out. I remember when I started out with film I did not have this luxury! I kind of stayed with the safe shots on this night. I think I fired about 100 shots during the fireworks and have maybe five keepers. It is a lower number that I would have wanted but i’ll blame the Crown Royal on any mistakes.

After the fireworks finished the great exodus happens in every direction as people head home. I stayed put and went to the north west side of the building and loved watching all the cars and people. The smell of the smoke and the sirens were almost overwhelming. The second light show had begun and this time it was the cars were performing for us. It is a sight we have all seen but a camera sees things differently than we do. I wish I would have dragged the shutter more to make bigger and longer light trails. Once again, I’ll blame the Crown Royal for not thinking.

Shooting assignments is perhaps the most fun and rewarding part of my photographic journey. I have always approached every situation as if the world needed my pictures. I enjoy the challenge and struggle of walking into the unknown and finding a way to create content that I love…most importantly my clients will love. The journey is many years in and still growing into new and amazing challenges.

Thank you for all the comments, sharing and love you have always provided me. I am grateful for all it…from the opportunities to the outpouring of love and support. It has not been an easy road or a short one but I am going to keep fighting for my dreams.

Windsor–Detroit International Freedom Festival