Being 2 days before the 4th of July, I thought I would give a few tips on creating great images of your local fireworks displays. One of the first things to consider is vantage point. Where should you be set up? Do you want to include any buildings in your images or do you want a clean sky? Is there a river, lake or pond that would create interesting reflections? these are a few questions to ask yourself before the show, so that you can get set up while it is still light. One other consideration is that I would always recommend that you be upwind from the fireworks, otherwise smoke will be a problem.
One mistake that I commonly see is the improper selection of film or ISO speed on a digital camera. Even though it is dark outside, the fireworks are quite bright. I would recommend using ISO 100 or slower speed film. The images posted here are all made at ISO of 100. I am using an aperture of f5.6 to f8 and my favorite shutter speeds of 2 to 4 seconds. The brightest bursts tend to blow out if I go slower than 5 seconds.
One other thing that I commonly hear is to use a tripod! I disagree here! While a tripod is useful to capture fireworks as we tend to think they should be, and I am a big advocate of using a tripod whenever possible, experiment without one as well. My favorite images of fireworks have been made without a tripod.
Most of all, have fun and enjoy the holiday!