If you’re planning on snapping some pictures of fireworks this weekend, you may want to take a look at these tips from Consumer Reports first. While CR’s tips may seem most applicable to DSLRs, it’s possible to get decent fireworks shots with “advanced” compacts. The key: manual controls. Or you can just set the camera to its built in fireworks mode, and be done with it.
For the most part, shooting fireworks is about keeping the lens open long enough, keeping the camera stable, and hoping for the best. Or as CR puts it:
Because fireworks are bright and dynamic, you may need to take a few shots to determine the best speed. If you close the shutter too quickly, you’ll miss the spheres, rings, and other formations. Leave it open too long and you’ll overexpose. For starters, set the speed to several seconds and, for each shot, press the shutter release just before the fireworks explode. Based on the results of each shot, fine tune the speed. …
Mounting the camera on a tripod is best, but if you can’t do that, seat it on something stable, such as a fence. With an advanced camera, such as an SLR, you can further reduce the chances of camera shake by using a remote release to trigger the shutter. Or, if you can seat the camera without having to hold it, try its self-timer, which eliminates having to press the shutter.
Another good piece of advice: “If possible, stay upwind of the fireworks or your shots may be ruined by smoke.” You may want to follow that tip even if you opt to leave the camera at home.
Tips for photographing fireworks on this Fourth [Consumer Reports Electronics]