Last night I had the pleasure of photographing a beautiful wedding display by Firework Crazy. The groom was UKFR forum member “Signum” so this was a special display; all of my members are like family and it was great to be there to see his pyrotechnic send-off. Of course being a fireworks fanatic as Signum is – not to mention the fact he fires for Firework Crazy too - means of course that a full-on fireworks spectacular was guaranteed.
The venue was a pretty location in Suffolk just north of Ipswich called All Manor Of Events. Arriving on one of the hottest and sunniest days of the year so far I popped across into the adjacent field to catch up with the team who were already hard at work setting the display up.
This was no ordinary fireworks team however. Signum had drafted in what can only be described as an elite squad of UKFR forum regulars to take on this very special assignment. The first crew member I met on the slightly windswept field was Jeff (Ambientskies) who was doing his best to look like a Navy Seal with his all-black attire and matching head gear and then Marcus (Shedman) sporting some rather nice Ray Bans. Beyond these two and further into the field I could see Pyromania, Venger (sneezing for England with his hayfever), Luvlijub and Phil40.
I thought at first they were setting up just a little too close to the scarecrow then realised it was Firework Crazy owner Mark Priest who had fooled me by standing so very still with his clipboard. Joking aside, Mark had pulled together a huge amount of quality pyro material for this display. Picking my way between the sugar beet I caught up with him and asked about the impending fireworks display.
“We’ve got a mixture of gear from MLE, Absolute and Kimbolton” Mark explained. “There are over 260 shells to see Signum on his way ranging in size from 2.5 inch up to 6 inch, supported by a large assortment of cakes all with at least 30mm bore size. There are also a good deal of candles from 40mm to 50mm bore.”
I could see some wiring across the site so I asked Mark how he planned to fire it. “There are both electrical and hand fired sequences” Mark continued. “We’ll start off with the hand lit sections, which are the cakes and candles, before moving to shell sequences and the finale sections which are electrically fired. I’m using a system called Pyro Sure to do this.”
Looking towards the far end of the setting up area I could see a number of big shell tubes so I asked Mark what kind of finale he was planning. “Something pretty big” he grinned, in that manic sort of way that pyromaniacs do. “We’ll be firing four 4 inch whistle mines, four 6 inch gold titanium willow shells and two 6 inch ghost shells as part of the finale and pre-finale sequences.”
“The display is a combination of Signum’s chosen fireworks and some extra gear added by us” he added. “That makes it quite a bit bigger than your average wedding show so it should be a good one. It’s our first time at this venue and it’s a great place to let off fireworks. Lots of room and the weather couldn’t be better. Unless you have hayfever” he said, handing more toilet roll to Venger to try and stem his weeping nose.
I let the team get back to work as I wandered around the site taking some photos. All of the guys present were really into fireworks and it showed, I couldn’t really have imagined a more competent crew to rig this. Their combined experience spans so many different display teams and all of them have crewed at some pretty big events.
With the sun beginning to set it was time to think about the fireworks photographs I was going to take. I decided to stick with still images as Mark had brought along his own camcorder. I settled on using two different SLRs, one would be set up near the firing area and left to shoot remotely, the other would be used for the bigger shots further out in the field, looking directly back towards the spectators.
At this time of year in the UK it remains quite light until late in the day. Last night was no exception and even at 9.30pm it was too light to fire. However by 10pm the light was falling away rapidly and the decision was taken to fire at 10.20pm. Mark’s crew did a final run through of their firing sequences and safety routines at which point I set the firing zone camera to remote shooting and retired to my deck chair and tripod on the other side of the field.
The display started with an ominous, quatermass like glow on the horizon. This was a pretty heart and initial item made from ice fountains which Jeff had put together for the bride and groom. From right across the field all I could see was the glow from this which signalled the imminent arrival of the main fireworks. These launched into life with one of the most beautiful fan cakes I have seen with various pretty coloured falling leaves.
From there the display ebbed and flowed with quiet and loud sections with the action going off at both low levels from the cakes and some higher sequences from the candles and some shells. I couldn’t tell it was hand fired, everything flowed so well.
The hand-lit sections were split into three areas, with a firer for each. One firer coordinated these to ensure the right items were fired at the right time from each section, shouting out the next cues from his master firing list.
The end sequences were just amazing. It’s not too often these days I see a wedding show that makes me go “WOW!” (most wedding shows are usually either low budget or low noise) but this was one of them. Not just the quality of the fireworks but the imaginative combinations they were fired in. Mark did such a good job designing this and due credit must of course go out to the firing team for pulling off a stunning show.
I never did get to see the bride and groom but Signum posted this in the forum the next day:
Wow – where to start. I’m actually stumped how and what to write lol – this is long, so I apologise, but I would love you to read it through and see my respect for the people that set my Wedding alight yesterday!
Firstly, I’m not even sure they all frequent these forums, but a quick thank you to Stuart at Kimbolton Fireworks, and also a thanks to Tam, Mat (& John for staying late to meet me) at MLE Pyrotechnics – I know it’s a time in the season when things are generally low with new ranges coming in, but thank you for putting up with my bombardment of ‘..have you got this’ emails. TLG (Graham) Thanks for the heads up on some of the cakes – some great pyro!
…and now on to the Important bit. We’re all men, we light fireworks, drink beer and eat curries, but I’m not afraid to write what I’m about to, because yesterday I was overwhelmed by a certain group of blokes.
A few years ago I stood in this Chelmsford Firework Shop, with this short cheeky chap filling my car up with fireworks for a little show I wanted to do.
…I’m Mark he says, I’m Mark too I replied…….erm, any chance of getting out in a field to see how it’s all done? I got my chance on that field, and as the years have passed, and being on here, slowly I start to meet more and more people.
I get wind of this St Georges comp – being the ever forward person I am – I wouldn’t mind getting involved in that, who are these Toyboys I hear of during a show at a golf club – a quick meet at a pub and I’m in, I get -
‘I Want it all to be blue’ says Ian
‘I got this idea of a bloody great tower says Jeff’ lol
The more shows I do, the more people I meet, this forum became a network for a secret life of pyro I was living – people knew I like fireworks, but for once, I was the cool guy in the overalls walking back from painting the sky
By this time the now Mrs Signum and I are engaged, and its fair to say it would be rude not to have fireworks at ya wedding – so the day comes closer and I start sending PM’s out, and emails – and one by one this team starts to come together and the pyro lists starts to get picked, and people are asking where it is, shall I bring anything….
A few insights into my in box -
“Of course I can help M8. Where there’s fireworks……”
“I really appreciate that and I’d love to come along for the jolly!”
“Do you need any racks or anything donating? Let me know the details mate!”
“Yes really looking forward to your wedding M8. Should be a good one. You’re not gonna know what hit you.”
“I’d love to come and help out, thanks for thinking of me, oh and congratulations by the way”
Above are a handful of responses I got to my battle call -
Mark (F’work Crazy)
Pete (Pyro Pete)
…you all need to stand up, be counted and take a bow. I’m proud to fire with you when were out, I’m proud to share a field till 1 in the morning with you, but most importantly I’m proud to call you my friends.
What you all did yesterday was above the call of duty, you all worked so hard to pull off an amazing display – one that I know I wont ever forget.
Ian thank you for the extra cake, and working on the firing order – the colours were stunning on that Kimbolton falling Leaves Cake (Mark get some of them for November ), thank you for the ‘Surprise’ lancework Jeff.
Phil, Marcus, Nick, Matt & John – solid fusing and work as always, absolutely filled the sky, arrangement was spot on!
Pete thank you for taking some pictures – the ones I saw on the other thread look absolutely stunning – some action shots too, these look really good!
Finally Mark Priest – you have done a lot in these last weeks, from my calls to meet me late at the stores, to driving to Somerset to pick up the racks – (come on guys, be honest – did Mark fuse anything?).
So that’s me done – you wouldn’t believe the amount of calls I have had from people, and what do you think the first thing they comment on is!!! It was seen in Claydon by some friends of ours which has to be about 5 miles away.
I owe you all plenty of field time – You made a pyromanic very happy, and for this I thank you all!
My upmost respect to you
All that remains to be said is congratulations Signum and well done to Firework Crazy and the crew for an amazing display.
Many thanks to Signum for inviting me along on behalf of UKFR and to Mark at Firework Crazy for allowing me on site to photograph this display. Cameras used: Canon EOS500D and EOS350D. Click on the thumbnails in the right margin to see larger photos.
You can watch Firework Crazy’s video of this display here.