For the best photos of fireworks, it helps to be close. The fireworks display at a county fair or your favorite baseball park, afford just such a shooting position.
I find the simplest way to shoot fireworks, providing they are close, is by using the “P” Mode and Live View.
First, watch a few fireworks go off in Live View. Then adjust your Exposure Compensation (EV+-) darker towards the ‘–’ direction until the colors of the fireworks become rich with saturation. Usually a setting of -2 or more is needed.
Don’t worry about the sky, you’re not photographing the sky, just the fireworks. Don’t worry about camera movement either. Fireworks are a moving thing and you want to see that! You can turn OFF your Image Stabilization for this same reason.
Also, you know how after each shot your camera shows you the image on your LCD? If you turn that feature off, you will be able to take your next picture without waiting. You can set your Image Size (File Size or Pixel Count) down to around 6-10 MP, and set your file format to JPEG. These settings will also help you to shoot faster without “processing” messages.
And lastly, NO FLASH! It won’t do anything for the fireworks, they’re too far away, it will only light up people or anything else that is close in your foreground and that might take away from the beauty of your fireworks.
These techniques can be applied to all types of “light timed’ photography, from flares, to cars, to flashlights.
Go out and “Write with Light!” Have fun!
Here are a few shots I had fun with last week at the Marin County Fair: