It’s that time of the year in Washington, D.C., when tree branches puff a pink cloud. It’s a special time of the year that signals spring- so special that a festival was created around the occasion- The Cherry Blossom Festival.
One of the activities lined up each year is the kite festival, which I wasn’t aware of, until my roommate/landlady told me about it a few days earlier. I usually just go to the Tidal Basin, and gush about the flowers for the rest of the year.
Back in late March, I attended a one-day workshop to learn the basics of smartphone filmmaking offered by Docs in Progress, a non-profit that promotes documentary filmmaking based in Silver Spring, Maryland. What better way to put my budding (no pun intended) filmmaking talent to good use by shooting a fun event like the kite festival held last Saturday. And here’s the result. It’s not worthy of an Oscar, but at least a like or retweet or two. Enjoy!
The Hamburg festival connotes blood and explosions. Kirschblüten, literally cherry blood, is the German term for cherry blossoms. It’s a famous festival that originated half around the world: Japan. It made its way to Hamburg in 1968. That year, the first fireworks lit the Aussenalster (outer Alster), and from then on has become an annual tradition.
The second best spot to watch the fireworks is along the banks of the Alster. Spectators must have unintentionally formed a human chain that circumscribed the Alster, which is roughly seven kilometers. The best spot, or spots, are on boats on the Alster.
I put in quite some preparation to photograph the fireworks. I analysed the background of photos of the fireworks taken in the previous years. I wanted to capture the fireworks, the silhouette of boats on the lake, and the Fernseherturm, a Hamburg landmark. Arriving an hour before the start of the fireworks, I secured a place on a bridge and made some test shots. A passer-by told me I might be aiming my camera a bit off to the left. I shifted my place a couple of times. Soon people trickled in and filled the edge of the bridge, as is the rest of the lakeside.
With temperatures still between seven to ten degrees Celsius in the evening, it’s a cold Kirschblütenfest unlike the previous years. Naturally, I have to dress warmly for the occasion. With the layers I put on I would have stayed warm even if it snowed. The fireworks started on schedule (this is Germany, after all) at 10.30 p.m. and lasted for about 25 minutes. Rounds of applause reverberated and punctuated the spectacle.