Let’s start by talking about your camera. It can be any digital camera that has settings such as M, S, Tv, Av or P. There’s lots of ways to get great results. I’ve found over the years by trial and error, that I prefer shooting most of my fireworks pictures on M (manual mode), but I am a manual shooter from way back when I started and I understand the correlation between ISO, shutter speed and f-stop. If you are not there yet, it’s ok. Let your camera do some of the settings for you instead of being on Manual. Set your Live View to on if you have it. This way you can see to compose a little better then thru the viewfinder. Check out my Guide to great Fireworks photos in the post below this one.
This was set on Manual exposure for 6 secs., f/13 at ISO 400. Shot on a tripod using a remote release.
The following photo was shot on a tripod using a remote release. It was set on Shutter Priority (not Manual) for 10 secs. at ISO 400. The f/stop was set by the camera at f/16 and it came out great.
Try zooming in tight. Sometimes the results are amazing. You can also set your continuous self timer on if you want the camera to shoot every so many seconds while you sit back and enjoy the show. One of my interns loved this idea and it worked great for her.
This image was taken at 8:40 pm EST with a 300mm lens on a Canon 5D Mark11 on a tripod. With a long shutter speed you have to be careful, you will get a little bit of movement if the boats are going horizontally to you but they can cause some cool lines to appear. The boats that are going slow and coming at you will not appear as blurry but those at the same speed going across in front of you. This was shot on Manual at 6 secs., f/6.3, ISO 400.