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Image 1 - Sydney Harbour was a special place at the time of the Millennium celebrations. Apart from numerous other scheduled events, it was the scene of the largest and most spectacular firework display the world had ever seen. There were actually two displays. A smaller and lower-key event took place around 9pm for the sake of the younger revellers. However the main event obviously had to begin on the stroke of midnight.

Early in the afternoon my wife and I walked down to the Botanical Gardens, the best area from which to see a firework display centred around the famous bridge, with the intention of locating a good spot. We were greeted by enormous crowds that had already congregated in all the prime locations. However we were just in time to squeeze into a small space on a grassy bank overlooking the harbour bridge - there were still nine hours to go before the show started! Initially we were unsure whether we would survive the discomfort and the long hours of waiting, but the crowd was in a festive mood and we were soon caught up in the atmosphere. People sang or told jokes, and large groups marked the passage of time by chanting, for example, "seven hours to go". The time flew and the approach of midnight was eventually heralded by a spine-tingling countdown coordinated by a huge electronic clock and announced by a crowd of one million.

Photography was a largely a matter of luck and relatively long exposures, although the fireworks produced a great deal of light. I used a wide-angle lens because we were situated relatively close to the huge display, and timing was unimportant. The twenty-minute barrage of pyrotechnics was of such intensity that there was always a picture. This shot was recorded on Fuji Sensia 400 using 1/30 second at f/4. It is probably worth mentioning, for the sake of scale, that the harbour bridge has a total length of two-thirds of a mile and a height of 440 feet.

 

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