A Rainy Independence Day

Rain, rain, go away. Don't come again on Independence Day.

I had one hellacious 4th of July shooting for the Smithville Herald in the Kansas City northland. The morning started out well — Smithville has a large lake that is very popular among the Kansas City-area. The lake, its parks and its golf course are public, although you have to be a slipholder to be able to dock your boat at Smithville Lake. Anyhow, I ventured out in the early morn to get some pictures of people playing on the beach, boating on the lake, etc.

Most of the morning proved to be mostly successful. Although the lake was not as well populated because of the forecasted rain, I managed to find some nice fishers and various other families. Then, I went to the beach. Wow, it was packed! Also, a lot of immigrant families were at the lake, such as a family I met from Sudan and a lot of Hispanic families from Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and more. My favorite was a group of Hispanic men of all ages playing soccer. Not all of them knew each other, and it was incredibly difficult to get names because only a few of them spoke English. This made caption-writing hard, but it was very fun to watch.

But then the rain started to come down. Because I went out in the late morning and took pictures until around 4, I decided I would take a bit of a break for dinner, so I headed to my boyfriend's family's house (he's from Smithville). Throughout the barbecue and croquet game, it was raining a bit, but nothing too bad. I left as the sun began to set so I could make pictures of the town's fireworks display, which is shown over Smithville's large lake. After asking my boyfriend, Tyler, for tips, I went to the dam where many people from around the Northland come to watch Smithville's huge fireworks display.

Now, I've learned most of my lessons about clothing and photo shoots. I brought some cut-offs and a tank top to shoot in during the day, but brought a dress for the 4th festivities at Tyler's house. I guess I was kind of in a rush to get out of the house, though, because I forgot to change back into my shorts before I left. As I was walking up the hill to the dam with my tripod, backpack, two camera bodies and notepad tucked in the front of my blue pin-striped dress, the rain started. I continued trekking, taking advantage of a large streetlamp to shed some light on the pouring rain.

People were trying to stick out the rain, cuddling close in their lawnchairs with their umbrellas and raincoats. This made for some great pictures...but then there was just a torrential downpour.

I have never photographed the rain before. Or in the rain. I generally try to stay out of it, for fear of my equipment. However, I've had a Canon 1D Mark IV for some time now, and the body is supposed to be amazingly weatherproofed. While everyone else rain to their cars as the rain beat down, I stood in the midst of it, tripod at my feet, notepad soaking wet, drenched from head to toe.

I stuck it out for a good 15 minutes, then trudged back to my car. Since my shoot was cut short, I figured I'd try to make some images up at fireworks stand. It was raining so hard that their tent was leaking and they had to cover up all the merchandise with tarps.

As I headed back to Tyler's house, I met an accident on 169 Highway. I'm a huge fan of spot news, but don't exactly get to shoot it everyday, so I took the opportunity to park my car in a nearby parking lot and stand at a safe distance to take some pictures. I didn't bother getting information or talking to officials because I wasn't aware of protocol and didn't want to make a faux pas in such a serious situation.

Once I got back to Tyler's, avoiding the accident, I changed into some dry clothes and sat down to tell his family what had happened. In the middle of my story, however, fireworks lit up the sky through the window outside. Yeah, they had not cancelled the fireworks because of the rain — they had just been delayed about an hour. Of course, no one was there to see them, but I knew that I would be in trouble if I did not get a photograph.

Tyler and I hopped in his truck and headed back out to a field where we could get a good view of the show. I set up my camera on a tripod and took some long-exposure shots as he held an umbrella over me. Needless to say, the wind had picked up during the last hour, and we did not stay dry.

It was a crazy and inclement Fourth of July. I don't feel like the images I made were as good as they could be, but it was a learning experience. I had a hard time shooting lights in the rain because they would make these huge streaks  — I learned that if I took off my UV filter, this would have prevented that.

All photographs copyright Katie Currid and may not be redistributed without permission.