Fallas de Valencia 2014 was one to never forget. At first I would visit Fallas as a normal fireworks enthusiast, accompanied with 3 more friends. However a few weeks before the start of Fallas the phone rang, it was Tony (freakpyromaniacs) and he asked me if I would like to enter the press area during Fallas, I couldn’t believe what he was asking! And of course I accepted this great offer.
Normally I just prepare my photo gear and make sure everything is clean en works properly, but for this time everything had to be perfect. Therefore I invested in a new tele-lens and a new wide-angle lens, all compatible with my full-frame Canon 5D mk2. A big advantage of this camera is the high signal to noise ratio, which gives me the possibility of shooting photos at low light situations, such as the Gabalgata del fuego. Another small but very important investment was a new memory card which is capable of transferring 160 MB/s. This is important if you shoot RAW images, which have a file size of approximate 23 MB each. Beside the new gear I used my Canon 50D in combination with a mid-range lens, to capture the close distance action. And the Canon 1000D camera in combination with a 14mm wide angle lens. The 50D is a wonderful camera which is quick and has a high quality sensor. The 1000D is a much cheaper camera, which I only use as a field camera. Thus it is not a disaster if it will be destroyed by the fireworks, and of course, I prefer no destruction. During this unique opportunity I wanted to place the Canon 1000D camera inside the metal cage at Plaza del Ayuntamiento, which I then could trigger with a remote control. This unfortunately did not work so well, as the remote control was not able to send the signal towards the receiver at the camera. This was probably caused by interference of the massive satellites of the tv-stations.
On the 15th of March, I arrived at Plaza del Ayuntamiento and met Tony early in the morning to take some picture at the set-up of the mascleta shot by Hermanos Cabller. After a few hours we went to the town hall of Valencia were I signed some forms and I got my press-pass. From this moment the nerves kicked in, in a bout of two hours I would be very close to the explosive mascleta…
At half past 1 the music starts at Plaza del Ayuntamiento and I started to prepare the camera’s: one placed on a tripod near the metal cage to caught the action inside, the second with a wide angle lens and the third with the tele lens. Ten minutes before two the first aviso “salute” was launched and five minutes before two the second. The mascleta started precisely at two o clock with the traditional traca de Valencia and I started to take pictures of the pyrotechnicians inside the cage. Very quickly I noticed how extremely loud the mascleta was at this close distance. After 40 seconds the digital sequence with truenos “Thunders” started without a warning, with a lot of force but with a beautiful rhythm. Soon I noticed that the automatic focusing mode didn’t work, because of all the stuff between me and the subject I wanted in focus. Thus I quick switched to the manual focusing mode. Another ”problem” I encountered was the very short time (duration of the mascleta is only 5 minutes) to caught the action and besides that everything happens together and very quickly! With the first results I was not satisfied, but luckily there would be a new opportunity the next day.
On day two the preparations were the same. I saw a lot of mortars at the inicio section (opening section), which could give a good photo if the pyrotechnicians would stand in front of the mortars. This was the second time for me, so I could better expect what would come and thus the photos were getting better. The inicio of the mascleta was great and contained lot of digital sequences and loud salutes.
The next mascleta was shot by Carlos Caballer (Pirofantasia), this time I had a special monopod bound to my body which was equipped with a GoPro camera of Tony. I was a little bit nervous this time, according to the rumors this mascleta would be very loud. The pyrotechnians were positioned at the side of the mascleta. Therefore I planned first to shoot some pictures at the front of the mascleta of the fireworks itself and later in the final section I would run around the cage to capture the emotions of the pyrotechnicians. This worked out great, the fireworks photos were good and I shot in my opinion my best Fallas picture. In the picture on the left you see a very relieved and happy Carlos Caballer jr. jumping in the air after a marvelous and hard mascleta. This shot was difficult due to the smoke which suddenly changes the light conditions and it is a very short moment of time.
The magnificent party at Fallas de Valencia has gone by fast. It is a week of party, good food, drinkings, superb fireworks and a lot of pictures. In the flight back to the Netherland I started right away of processing 60 GB of photos. The thousands of photos are not all of the mascleta but also the castillo’s, Falleras, gabalgata de fuego, the crema´s and of course the beautiful ambiance during Fallas de Valencia 2014!