This past weekend we finally went to something I’ve been patiently waiting a year and a half to go to. We went to the Busan International Fireworks Festival. Here’s the deal. It took me TONS of convincing to get my husband to drive up to Busan, where over 1 million spectators would be fighting us for a prime spot to see the show. I may have let it slip earlier this month that this particular festival was the only one I’ve ever really wanted to go to, and it would be the PERFECT birthday present. If you don’t know by now, you should probably know I have an obsession for fireworks. I explain all about it here.
Somehow my birthday present thing worked on Derik. Or maybe my husband is just super stellar and would wait around for 8 hours with me just to watch a 45 minute show. Whatever the case, we left early from Geoje, at around 12pm, to go claim our spot to watch/photograph the fireworks. A little die hard? Yeah kind of. Worth it? Absolutely. We decided to head up Hwangnyeongsan Mountain where we heard rumors that the views were unmatched. Took us only an hour to get there, which is kind of a miracle knowing how many people would show up.
There were already LOADS of photographers grabbing their spots to get the prime view (if you go I suggest at LEAST 6 hours early for the best spots). We had a family immediately befriend Derik and I, loading us up on kimchi pancakes, chicken soup (which I’m sure I saw at least 5-6 feathers floating in, as well as who knows what), and pomegranate vinegar to drink. We reciprocated their kindness with offering them the peanuts we had brought and even offered one guy a glass of our $20 dollar bottle of wine we had saved for this occasion. Nothing quite as romantic as watching fireworks and sipping on wine. However, in the traditional Korean way, he ended up passing the bottle to his twelve other friends and we got less than 1/4 c back. Fail. I’m still a little bitter about this, I had been saving that bottle.
After setting up, it was a waiting game until 8:00pm came. A LONG waiting game.
Hordes and hordes of people came last minute trying to push their way into our amazing spot. Thankfully my fellow photographer friends weren’t having any of that, and we all kind of protected each other and the amazing view.
Unfortunately at the first sound of a ‘boom’ people were pressing in trying to see that they weren’t really careful about if there was a camera set up or not. Us photographers were hovering over our tripods like none other, all pissed at everyone because we had waited SO LONG just to get the best view. That’s when the inner photographerzilla came out.
When the first big action sequences started to happen, people went a little nutzo. Pushing, shoving, phones in the air, jumping. Basically a photographer’s nightmare. I got a lot of pictures like this:
[Insert ‘side eye’ look]
I had NOT waited eight hours to get pictures like this. I immediately recruited my husband as my personal lens guard, having him tap people on their shoulders and calmly point behind them to my lens. It worked for a while. He had one little boy get angry at him and the little boy kicked over Derik’s chair (seriously kid, control your anger). Like I said, it worked for a while. Then it wasn’t working. I had 5 older men step right in front of my lens. I had NO shot whatsoever. Derik tapped them on their shoulders and they just looked at my camera and laughed, then turned back around. I started yelling at them and still nothing. That’s when I lost it. I left my spot behind the lens, went right up to them and forcefully turned one of the guys around (thankfully I’m 5’8″ so I was STILL taller than him…hehe). I pointed rather angrily at my camera and then did the whole ‘X’ sign with my arms saying that I couldn’t see. I wouldn’t leave them alone. Finally they got fed up with me and moved with a smile and a bow of their head.
My husband still won’t let my photographerzilla moment go. He said it was awesome. Scary, but awesome and that I should channel that part of myself more often. I think more for his entertainment than anything else.
Anyway through it all I did manage to get some pretty spectacular shots despite the random photographer man next to me that kept telling me I was doing everything wrong, even to the point that I didn’t even know how to move my own tripod. Seriously dude. I apologize for the random shadow heads and cell phones. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t control everything.
Although it took us 2:30 hours to get home, I’d have to say it was worth it. Sure the crowd thing was a little stressful at times, but I don’t regret going! If you’re ever in Korea around this time, you should definitely head over to Busan and check it out for yourself!
That being said, would anyone be interested in a tutorial on how to shoot fireworks?