This guide will aim to help you in photographing the man made wonder that is the firework, there will be very few of us out there that have not at some point in our childhood uttered in amazement ooooohh or aaarrrrhhh or gazed in wonderment at a firework display, now is your chance to try and bring some of that magic into a photograph..

Fireworks must be one of the most infuriating subjects to try and capture, you can never be totally sure where they’re going to explode or in what order or volume, so the only real advice I can give it try and be prepared for your subject and location if you can.

Things that you’ll need:

Camera (must be capable of a long exposure)
Tripod
Trigger/Remote Release (ideally)
You may also want some black card

Black Card, why on earth might you want this you may ask, well if you're shooting a display that has a fire you can use this to cover that from view after a bit of exposure, or if the display is a little slow, you can cover the lens between fireworks to get a few in a single exposure, without blowing out other areas of the scene, I have found in the past black mount card to be very effective...

Getting Started

So you know where there is going to be a fireworks display, now to think where is going to be the best angle to capture them from? what settings am I going to use? Once you've considered these two points you’re ready to start

Thinking about composition, obviously composition is very much a subjective and dependent on your situation. Personally I always try compositions which include some buildings. local scenery, or members of the public watching the fireworks, all of this will help to give a sense of scale. If there is a source of water  such as a river a lake or even the sea this can allow for reflection of the fireworks which is always an added bonus.

Setting up, try and get to location earlier than needed to be there for the actual fireworks as it will take time to set up your camera set your composition and ensure that you are in focus, try and do some tests exposures  though you will of course need to be flexible with your setting and be prepared to adjust things mid display...

Setting up your camera...

Setting up your camera...I like to set up for some flexibility in what I’m doing, so while I’ll normal look at exposures from 3-8 seconds I set my camera to bulb mode, what this means is that I can shoot an exposure length that I think I need, if there are lot’s of fireworks I can end earlier or if they’re a bit sparse then of course I can run longer than planned...where as if you set a specific shutter speed you will find that you will find often that your shutter closes just a little too soon and you end up with partial firework explosions which never looks quite right. Don't forget your shutter release/trigger, you'll need this to keep your shutter open when in bulb mode 

Aperture wise, I tend to shoot around f/8-16 for fireworks I find that this is sufficient for the brightness of the flashes to not totally blow/dominate the scene but at the same time let enough light and ambient light hit the sensor to record a really nice image..

ISO...try and keep it low, you should not need super high ISO’s for fireworks but that said I have found that occasionally it’s best to got up to say ISO640 to help draw in the ambient light from the scene

IS/OS/VR...you're on your tripod so there is no need to have this switched on and actually leaving it on will normally degrade the quality of your image making it softer

ICNR (In Camera noise Reduction) it’s quite simple really TURN IT OFF, you don’t need it on, all it will do is slow your camera down and cause you to miss shot’s so keep it off, and noise reduction your camera can do you can do in editing, and if you shoot RAW it will not show in the raw anyway I believe

...So you’ve positioned your camera and dialed in your settings, now for focus. This is quite easy to do even in the dark if there is a bonfire that should allow you to auto focus, or try and find a light source close to where you think the fireworks will launch from and then focus on that REMEMBER to switch to manual focus once you’ve set focus as the last thing you want is for the fireworks to get going then to try and take a shot and the camera then starts to hunt for focus

If you're not able to auto focus the easiest thing to do is to up the ISO and do a few test long exposure adjusting focus until you're happy with your focus and composition...

Final thoughts...

Don’t forget to enjoy the fireworks’ as watching what is happening rather than focusing too much on the camera will help you get better photos and you will see what is going on, check the camera occasionally to make sure you’re getting it right though  you can also get very creative with fireworks THIS recent link that I was sent show how changing focus though the explosion can make some quite unique images