Cassie Mattia is the Associate Editor of Loveland Magazine and lives in Historic Downtown.

by Cassie Mattia

Loveland, Ohio – Loveland videographer Bob Kessler wanted to get a unique perspective of this year’s 4th of July fireworks by getting up close and personal with the launch zone! Kessler was able to not only show the launch of the fireworks but the explosions as well in one wide-angle shot. Loveland Magazine and Kessler teamed up this year for the 4th so that he could receive credentials to be on the actual launch site. By doing this, Kessler was able to witness the firework preparations and be there when the fuses were lit.

Loveland’s and Symmes Township’s annual Independence Day celebrations were canceled this year, however, the City and Township were able to hold two simultaneous, “park and watch” firework shows on Saturday, July 4th.

Kessler positioned himself at Loveland’s launch site inside Philips Park which was closed to the public for the day. Symmes Park, which was also closed to the public for the day, acted as the launchpad for the Township.

Kessler explained that previously he shot video from various street views in Downtown Loveland and on the bridge of the Little Miami River. Typically, Loveland launches its annual show from inside Kiwanis Park on Wall Street but, this year, because of COVID 19 the City was concerned about having thousands of people crowd into Historic Downtown, which is known as the best viewing spot for the fireworks. City Hall ended up deciding to move the launch to a higher location in order to take advantage of the area’s church and school parking lots. Spectators were either encouraged to watch the shows, drive-in movie style and practice social distancing, or residents who lived near the parks were asked to stay at home to enjoy the show. Those that decided to watch the fireworks from their cars went to Loveland High School, Home of the Brave Park, church parking lots, and surrounding subdivisions while of course remaining socially distant.

Kessler told us that the launch locations were chosen to accommodate the use of larger shells, which go higher into the air and allow spectators to watch from a much wider area.

Here is Kessler’s favorite still shot from his vantage point at the launch pad inside Phillips Park. “This is my favorite picture from the batch I shot last night. I was about 250′ from the launch site, behind the exhibitors running the show. Nikon D850, 14mm, ISO 400, f/10, 8 seconds,” said Bob Kessler.

Kessler said he was excited about the addition of a second launch site at Symmes Park this year.

“The second launch site promised to make for a unique experience. That’s why I settled on Phillips Park as the best location for me to photograph both stills and video images.”

Dave Miller, Loveland Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, covered the wide shots from the top of the stands at LHS’s stadium where he was able to view both Loveland’s and Symmes’ fireworks. He used two cameras, one acted as a live feed so LOVELAND MAGAZINE TV could have a live broadcast of the shows.

Kessler and Miller were in constant communication in the days leading up to the show as times and locations rapidly changed with not much notice to the public. Luckily Loveland Magazine had a firework “inside man,” which allowed us to communicate quick and accurate firework updates to the public.

A few minutes before launch time Kessler sent a message to Miller saying, “I passed the cop-test. The patrol came through and the Rozzi guy said, ‘He’s with us!”

Some of the camera equipment Bob Kessler used at the launch site of the Loveland Fireworks show.

Loveland was the first to set off their rockets, then Symmes followed shortly after. Each firework show lasted about fifteen minutes. After the two shows finished both launch pads put on a simultaneous Grand Finale.

“I first contacted the Loveland Symmes Fire Department about getting permission to be close, as they previously ran the show and knew me and my work with Loveland Magazine,” Kessler explained, “I then approached Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks and got the permission of the exhibitor running the show to shoot within the normally closed firing zone.”

Kessler positioned himself in a ditch behind the show operator. Using a wide-angle lens and shooting 4K, he was able to capture a high definition video that allowed him to digitally “zoom-in” on the image without compromising quality. “I concurrently shot digital images with my still camera, the equivalent to an 8K image,” Kessler said.

Kessler experimented with various settings on his camera as the show progressed, mostly shooting still frames at various time exposures of 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 seconds. “All this fussing had to be done quickly, as I knew the show would only last 15-20 minutes. I managed to get about 75 images and several videos,” Kessler said, “Out of that, I ended up with 11 shots that I liked enough to post on Facebook.”

Kessler learned from the Rozzi folks that the firework shells are able to go up to 100′ in the air for each inch of shell diameter. For example, a 4′ shell would go 400′ feet into the air while a 6′ shell would go about 600 feet into the air.

“I always look forward to working with Bob Kessler on video projects because I learn so much,” David Miller said, “My only regret is there wasn’t enough of him to go around that night so he couldn’t be in the stadium with me to adjust my camera. If he could have been there then all I would have had to do was hit the record button. My video would have been so much better!”

Some of the video equipment David Miller used to shoot video and live-stream the fireworks show from the high vantage point of the stands at Tiger Stadium

Miller also said that when Kessler offered to shoot the show he knew that he would expend countless hours readying his equipment and making adjustments. “Doing something like shooting fireworks is seat-of-pants. There are so many variables such as the rapidly setting sun. Will it be completely dark, well it will be if it’s a cloudy day. If the sun is out and going over the horizon which way will it be heading in relation to where the camera is? Fifteen minutes can make a huge difference in the ambient light that time of day,” Miller explained, “Bob sees all these variables in the days before and has the brainpower to take most of the guesswork out of the equation.”

Miller said he really enjoyed watching the evening unfold from the highest elevation in town. “When I got to the stadium there were already about 20 teens playing frisbee football and before the show, someone new showed up with a cooler of water balloons to cool them off with.”

At showtime, many of the teens and some adults joined Miller at the top of LHS’s bleachers to enjoy the vantage point of seeing both shows. “The pre-show of all the neighborhood fireworks displays going off from the high vantage point I had was pretty cool as well,” Miller added.

Did you miss the 4th of July firework shows this year? Well, we have you covered! Click below to relive Bob Kessler’s 4th of July Fireworks video production!

Kessler also produced a short clip of Loveland’s Finale which Loveland Magazine ended up using as an experiment of a “Video Cover Photo”.

Loveland Magazine sends out a special thanks to Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks for giving us access to the launch site and showing us such wonderful hospitality!

Check out these previous firework shows that Bob Kessler produced for Loveland Magazine TV. In this first video from 2015, Bob showed close-ups as the fuses were lit by a crew of Loveland Firefighters in full protective gear. Deputy Fire Chief Don Books talks about the show and how safe it was for the crew.

VIDEO: Setting off your 4th of July fireworks was no job for the timid

VIDEO: Loveland’s Firecracker Festival