Fireworks Show

Cap off the day by joining us at College Park High School for a truly spectacular fireworks display.

This crowd-pleaser is an exciting treat for the whole family. Make yourself comfortable in the grass at the soccer field and be prepared for a dazzling presentation of fireworks and live music. It all takes place right here in Pleasant Hill at College Park High School, located on Viking Drive just west of Contra Costa Blvd (between Morello & Contra Costa Blvd).

This pyrotechnic dazzler is sure to please. In our opinion it is the best fireworks display in the county. Treat yourself and your whole family to this sensational salute to our country’s birthday.

Handicap parking is available in front of the high school on Viking Drive. General parking is close by at the Pleasant Hill Community Center on Civic Drive. Additional parking is available in the north lot (off Golf Club Road) at Diablo Valley College. There is no parking available in the DVC south lot, off Viking Drive.

This fireworks display continues to grow in both size and popularity. It draws a huge crowd, so be sure to arrive a bit early so you can stake out a good viewing spot. Bring along a blanket or towel to sit on, plus a sweater or jacket for the cool night air.

The fireworks begin at dusk, around 9:10 pm. Arrive early enough to enjoy the music prior to the fireworks, provided live by Public Eye.  Admission is free.

Music?? Did you say you like live music??

Prior to the fireworks display we will all be treated to music performed live by Public Eye. The music and the fireworks together make for a double treat. The music will begin at approximately 7:15 – 7:30 PM and will continue until the fireworks display begins. So be sure to arrive at the field early enough to get a good place to sit and enjoy the music of Public Eye!

Hungry?? We have a treat for you!

There’s no need to cook dinner on this special day. As always, there will be hot food and refreshments for sale right on-site at the fireworks display. The food vendor this year will be the highly popular Slow Hand BBQ. The Slow Hand BBQ Restaurant, located on Oak Park Blvd right here in Pleasant Hill, will be there cooking and serving up their famous BBQ treats. So bring along your family, your appetites, and be ready to enjoy a spectacular show. Food will be available for purchase starting at 6:30.

Like Ice Cream??

IzzyA’s will be providing organic, clean and  simple frozen custard ice cream

Bringing Along Your Camera?

Here Are Some Tips For Taking Great Pictures of Fireworks


You will definitely need a tripod. Since your exposures will run anywhere from 2 to 30 seconds, you’ll need the tripod for stability and to ensure smooth, sharp photographs of the shell trails and the fireworks bursts. A monopod simply won’t cut it.

Cable release

For ease of shooting, you’ll also need a cable release so you can sit back, click the shutter, and still enjoy the show. In addition, if your film camera doesn’t advance the film automatically, you’ll also want to use an auto winder or a motor drive.

What lens to use?

The type of lens you select depends on where you are in relation to the fireworks and the effect you wish to achieve. If you’re relatively close and what you’re looking for are frame-filling photos of the bursts themselves, then a short telephoto in the 100mm to 200mm range will probably work well. If you want overall views of the scene, then a 50mm to 80mm lens should do the job. And if you want to include people silhouetted in the foreground, then you’ll want an even wider lens, such as a 24mm to 35mm.

Film Camera

You can shoot fireworks with any type of film — negative, transparency, even black and white — but we recommend color transparency film. So use whatever film you’re comfortable and familiar with. Some photographers recommend using tungsten film for photographing fireworks, while other photographers use daylight film. The tungstenites say that daylight balanced film gives the fireworks too reddish a cast. The daylighters say they like that. If you have the luxury of two camera bodies, two tripods, why not set them both up and use tungsten film in one, daylight film in the other? Then you be the judge when you see the results! Any speed film ranging from ISO 50 to ISO 200 will work well for you.

Exposure settings
Set your shutter control to manual.
Set your f/stop to the following:
ISO 50 film . . . . . f/5.6 or f/8
ISO 64 film . . . . . f/5.6 or f/8
ISO 100 film . . . . . f/8 or f/11
ISO 200 film . . . . . f/16

How long to hold the shutter open?

This varies, again depending on the effect you want. You may want to capture a single burst or you may wish to capture multiple bursts. Again, since this is an inexact science, don’t worry too much about it. To capture a single burst, wait until you hear the sound of the mortar shell being launched. Open your shutter. Wait for the burst to explode. Keep waiting until the burst has completely finished and all the twinkling is done. Then close the shutter. That’s it! If you wish to capture several bursts, wait for the sound of the shell being launched, open your shutter, wait for the burst to disappear, then cover your lens (tips on that later) and wait for the sound of the next shell being launched. Uncover your lens, wait until it’s over, then cover your lens again. You be the judge of how many bursts you want in one photo. Just remember that you don’t want too many — it starts looking way too busy.

Smoke gets in your eyes . . .

Try to be upwind of the fireworks show. As the show progresses and the smoke builds up, you’ll find that it can partially obscure the fireworks. One expert suggests: “Rather than being upwind, I find it’s better to be at a right angle to the direction of the wind. This way, smoke will be blown out of the frame most quickly. If you’re directly upwind, smoke can still remain behind your colorful subjects.”

Landmarks for a sense of perspective

You’ll get a sense of perspective by including a landmark, even if it’s the silhouette of a person in front of you, a tree, the scoreboard, a building, etc.

Watch your backgrounds

At twilight, while you’re waiting for the fireworks to begin, take a good look at any lights that may be behind the fireworks. Sometimes you won’t notice a street lamp until you see that enormous glowing white blob in your resulting shots. Then you think, “How could I have missed that?” By scoping out the background first, you may have time to shift your position or switch lenses to avoid having the offending light appearing in each one of your pictures.

Focus on the bursts

Don’t rely on setting your lens to infinity to shoot the fireworks. When the first burst goes up, focus on that burst and use that focus throughout.

Shoot verticals and horizontals

So many photographers automatically hold the camera horizontally when they shoot, not remembering that they can hold the camera vertically as well. Don’t limit yourself! Take some shots vertically and others horizontally (We’re referring to the camera, but perhaps you could lie down or stand up!).

Cover your lens but don’t jiggle the camera

If you’re photographing multiple bursts, there are numerous ways you can cover your lens between bursts without moving the camera. Some photographers take a black baseball cap to put on the lens, others will bring a piece of non-reflective black velvet or black felt cloth to hang over the lens. Some photographers simply use their hand, while another photographer painted the inside of a round oatmeal carton black and stuck that on the front of the lens (a bit bulky to pack, though).

Miscellaneous tips

Michael-Leonard Creditor recommends “try some pieces of colored cellophane or other type of colored filters to lend even more color to the bursts. And don’t forget that great old technique of ZOOOOMING during the exposure for a totally different look to the burst patterns.”

Double-expose a full moon into your shots?

With a film camera, you may wish to go out and, using a long lens, take some shots of the moon, reload the film into your camera, and then on the 4th go out and photograph the fireworks, superimposing them next to your moon shots. If you kept accurate notes while shooting the moon, you’ll know, frame by frame, where the moon is in each shot as you compose for the fireworks. Or, with a digital camera, just digitally place the moon wherever you wish afterwards!