Portfolio: David Johnson


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The Independent Culture

This ordered explosion of colour could, at first glance, be some sort of marine anemone or flower in bloom – perhaps even a bunch of colouring pencils. But the clue lies in the smaller eruptions of colour seen elsewhere in the picture. In fact, we're looking at a pyrotechnic burst of light from the annual fireworks convention in Quebec, shot by the Canadian photographer David Johnson.

"All you see in normal firework photos are a series of faint lines in the sky where the fireworks went – it doesn't capture the feeling of being there," he says.

So how do you capture on film the rapturous feeling of watching a display? Johnson's approach was to use long exposures, refocusing the lens at the point of explosion and thus creating solid, expansive tentacles of light that appear to create an organic, 3-D shape, like a flowering plant.

"Though for me," he says, "this shot actually looks like a big handful of jellied sweets – and it reminds me of the feeling I experienced when watching the fireworks, capturing the oohs and the ahs of the audience."

For more: daveyjphoto.com; to buy prints: society6.com/DavidJohnson/prints