By Scott Umstattd
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico knows how to throw a party. And September is the month to see San Miguel put its best foot forward. Not only is this the month when Mexican's celebrate their independence from Spain, September is also the month when San Miguel de Allende celebrates the Fiesta de San Miguel, a weekend spent celebrating San Miguel's patron saint, Saint Michael the Archangel.
Everything kicks off at 3am with fireworks that last for an hour. It's safe to say that very few people are asleep in San Miguel as the town lights up the early morning night in preparations for a three day festival.
San Miguel de Allende (or SMA) was honored by Conde Nast as the Best City in the World in 2013 and Travel and Leisure Magazine gave San Miguel the same title in 2017. This is a great town, no doubt. It's filled with history and the Centro area is great for walking around. There's some excellent restaurants and a vibrant night life. It's big enough and small enough all at once. But I'm not sure if I would say it's "the best" city in the world. Argue that point if you wish, SMA still ranks up there as a world class city nonetheless.
But you don't have to be in San Miguel de Allende in September to enjoy a great fireworks show. While you shouldn't expect fireworks to go off every night you shouldn't be surprised when the random celebration breaks out somewhere in town and locals light up the night with fireworks.
Taking pictures of fireworks is actually pretty easy. One thing to consider is that you want your practice shots (those taken without fireworks) to be underexposed. When the fireworks go off you'll have the light needed to create a better exposure.
Another aspect of photographing fireworks is timing. This takes practice and luck. Keeping an eye on the ground and you can see the fireworks take off. Since you are using a tripod and have already set your composition, all you need to do is press the shutter over and over and over and over again hoping that some of the shots are timed right.
I'm sure you noticed that a lot of these pictures are taken from the same place. Well, when your rooftop affords you a view that shows the entire town it's easy to get stuck in a photography rut. Plus, I'm actually quite lucky. Our home gives us a perfect vantage point to cover fireworks no matter what part of the city they are launched from.
But don't be like me. Get out more than I do and get close to the action. Shots from underneath the fireworks can have a lot of action. Be sure to take some pictures of people or landmarks that are lit by the light show going on above. This lighting provides a surreal affect because we are not used to seeing someone or some thing illuminated in the unique light fireworks provide.
There's actually several more things to consider when taking pictures of fireworks. I've written another article that goes into much more detail to help you make the most of your firework photography.
And, if you are into San Miguel de Allende, check out The Beetles of San Miguel de Allende.