I love American history, especially military history. I've felt the morning rain as it doused the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg and walked among the field grasses at Valley Forge. So when I heard about the Battle of Costa Mesa, an annual Civil War reenactment event in Fairview Park, I jumped at the chance to photograph and write about it. I was there nearly all day April 16, getting the full spectrum of photo possibilities. Yet the whole time I knew there one shot I had to get: the fiery ignition of a cannon. To get that moment requires timing and a little bit of luck, because the fire spurting out from the barrel lasts only a split second. Ever since my days as a journalist in Alaska, I've carried earplugs with me on assignments. In the frozen north I always needed them when flying in small airplanes, but in O.C. they're handy for events like these. So with my eardrums protected and my hands free to hold the camera, I tried several times before finally getting this shot. In it, all the elements came together: the boom, the fire and the ensuing smoke.