Tag Archives: Art

WaterFired Up

“Want to go to the next WaterFire with me?”

Hmmm. How do I make this post not sound like an indulgent promo piece?

To begin, I admit I’m a huge WaterFire fan. I try to attend every one. I even feel guilty when I miss one.

Am I obsessed? Maybe. But WaterFire has so much to offer on so many levels—especially for anyone with a camera, which is just about EVERYONE.

So what is WaterFire?

The Basics
At its core, WaterFire is an artistic installation of 100 braziers burning in a row down the center of the canals that wind through downtown Providence, Rhode Island. That means crackling campfires actually rising from the water.

Very cool!

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Full lightings (smaller ones are also held) typically take place on a weekend night about twelve times per year from May through October. They always begin at sundown in a solemn lighting ceremony, usually initiated by at least one brawny fire-starter, and end at midnight.

But it’s so much more than that. WaterFire is a multifaceted event that grabs all of your senses. No two installations are quite the same. And every one is brought together by a dedicated team of mostly volunteers.

Disclosure: I volunteered one season a few years ago.

Beyond Flames
So here goes:

  • Instrumental music piped in all along the river
  • Wide variety of indoor/outdoor restaurants or street food (or picnickers toting their own fare)
  • Origami crane maker busily at work in front of happy kids
  • Bands jamming on a street stage (sometimes)
  • Glass blower shaping molten glass into pendants
  • Local artists displaying/selling their paintings, jewelry, and other creations
  • Outdoor beer/wine station—you can freely walk along the river with your drink, New Orleans style
  • Different theme nights sponsored by local universities, businesses, or organizations
  • Human gargoyles and oracles stoically perched in a side park along the way with bright luminarias flickering in another


And there’s lots more going on!

For many years, they even closed down an intersection intimately framed by looming tall buildings and set up a dance floor for outdoor strutting in front of a live band—I hope that returns someday.

And it’s people walking arm-in-arm, gazing silently or yapping joyously. You can immerse yourself in the crowd, or you can easily find an isolated spot to be quietly contemplative. The event stretches that far along the waterway.

Every bit of social strata is present: college students, professionals, working class; young children, teens, moms and dads, grandparents; gay, straight; white, black, Asian; local folks, global visitors. And everyone manages to peaceably interact and enjoy the experience.

It rocks!

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So of course all of this offers a multitude of photo opportunities—endless possibilities!

And yes, once the sun sets, it’s a challenge to shoot in reduced lighting. Nothing is perfect.

What do you say…

“Want to go to the next WaterFire with me?”

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*  *  *

So what about you?
Beyond using a tripod, do you have any tips for shooting in dark conditions where there is often movement? Have you been to WaterFire yet?

Additional WaterFire Pix


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Filed under Hope, Photography, Providence, Waterfire