Hope everyone is having an excellent 4th of July, and for all you out there looking to take some amazing photos of the fireworks this evening, I'll give you a few quick tips on how to do so!
1) A Tripod:
You'll want to make sure you're camera is stable to eliminate any motion blur. Invest in a stable tripod. Here's the one I use - Manfrotto 055XProB
2) A remote Shutter Release
A remote shutter will help you eliminate that camera shake and motion blur, but if you have a sturdy tripod it shouldn't be too big a problem.
You want to shoot as low ISO as possible. ISO 100 is recommended.
4. Focal Length
The focal length can be tricky, I recommend a wide zoom lens such as a 17-40mm, which is what I used to get the amazing shot at the top of the post! But if you are going to be very far back from the fireworks, you might want a standard tele-zoom. Something that will help you compose your shots with ease. If you are wide you have the option to crop if you get too much unwanted empty space.
It's important to make sure you're in focus as well, so when they start the show, take a few shots and make sure you adjust your focus ring to perfection!
The fireworks are very bright, and you're going to want to close those aperture blades a bit. For best results, somewhere between f/8 and f/16 will do.
6. Shutter Speed
This is where it can make or break you. The shutter speed is the most important. You are going to want a long exposure to get the best results. Shooting in "BULB" with a remote shutter release, or your finger on the shutter button with a sturdy tripod is the best technique. You want to press the shutter button as the firework is going up just about to explode and release it just as it starts to dissipate in the sky. Hold it too long and you can get some very odd light trails like this.
You are going to want to know where the fireworks will be going off. If its going to be a crowded area with lots of trees or poles in the way then you'll need to get to your desired spot a bit earlier then most. This is also key in when you consider what lens you'll be using. If you can get in a wide open area relatively close up and plop that wide angle zoom on your camera. Since it'll be dark and you wont have too much control over where the fireworks go once in the air give yourself a little room to get all of the explosion in your shot.
8. Most IMPORTANT
Have fun! Spend the night with a special someone, lay in each others arms, and get some great shots. Good memories will last longer then a good picture, at least when it counts.