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Photographer's Note

Recently I attended a wedding ceremony in Charlottesville, Virginia. The church service at the University of Virginia Campus was followed by a reception and dinner at a local vineyard. Ushers at the wedding went around lighting the sparklers of guests, and some of the guests in turn lit the sparklers of others. The event culminated dramatically with the young bride and groom walking through a gauntlet of sparklers. This practice, I understand, is fast becoming a tradition. One-meter (36 inch) long sparkler were handed out to each of the 200 guests who lined a 100 m (100 yard) path. Approximately 10-15 minutes after the eye-catching gauntlet was organized, the exercise was over. The guests began to discard their sparklers in large pales, and I shot the image of a cluster of sparklers in a pale. In the workshop I present a scene of the gauntlet of guests.

Sparklers are an invention of Chinese alchemists of a millennium past. It was Marco Polo who introduced them to Europe in the late 13th century. These days sparklers are again produced and exported by China. In the "classic" type of sparkler a thick batter of slow-burning pyrotechnic composition is used to coat a stiff metal wire about a meter long, and allowed to dry. The metallic fuel, necessary to make sparks of various size, contain magnesium to produce white sparks, and ferrotitanium, for yellow-gold sparkles. It is also necessary for the admixture in the batter to contain and oxidize such as potassium, barium or strontium nitrate.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5971 W: 457 N: 10312] (34571)
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