Photographing fireworks can be challenging but it's not impossible.
Actually I find it fun, but you have to pay attention as you shoot.
Following these tips should get you thinking about what you are trying to accomplish, and give you better results.
Tip 1: Aim up.
Fact 1: Changing shutter speed effects the length or ‘travel’ of the fireworks.
Changing the ‘F’ stop effects the thickness or color amount of the fireworks display.
Tip 2: Turn off your flash and set your camera to manual mode. This way you control the exposure and aperture yourself. A good starting place for your settings is ISO 200, f/11, at 1/2 second.
Fact 2: The long exposures you will be shooting for firework photography means you MUST keep the camera completely motionless. Keep your camera motionless by using a sturdy tripod and a shutter release cord. When shooting a scene that includes not just the sky but also other elements like buildings, keeping the horizon line straight is particularly important. Make sure your camera is level on the tripod.
Tip 3: Arrive early to scout out your location and choose where you want to set up. Before the show begins, think about what’s between you and the fireworks display. A tree or building can partially obscure the show. Manually set the focus for your scene before it gets dark. Focus on an area of sky where the fireworks will be, or on an object far away. Once the fireworks start, you’ll be ready to start shooting.
Tip 4: Try varying your shots. The focal length you need depends on your distance from the burst and what you’re trying to capture. A sweeping, broad view, or a tight shot that shows detail, you will want to use a zoom lens that goes to at least 200mm. Remember that zooming to different focal length will require refocusing in most zoom lenses. ** If it is windy out, and there is a lot of smoke and dirt flying around DO NOT change lenses!!!**
Tip 5: Dramatic shots often have the rising charge, as well as the ‘bloom’. This is accomplished by extending the shutter speed. If you are in a very dark area, the longer shutter speed will not affect the foreground. You will want to use a type of remote shutter release to avoid touching the camera. Fire the shutter as the firework is launching and hold it down until the burst has faded, typically a few seconds.
Photos: A. Baum