This was my first fireworks show that I have ever attempted to shoot. I thought it would be an easy affair other than finding the right spot amongst the throngs of people. We were at Jekyll Island on the coast of Georgia for the event, so we set up a small plot on the beach and waited for the show begin. I figured it would be cool to get really long exposure by stopping down to about f18 and even covering the lens between bursts to get as many fireworks in the shot without overexposing the areas below.
This does not work. You are lucky if you can get a series of 2 shots without the bright blasts completely over exposing the area of explosion and also lighting up the smoke in an unappealing way. I was getting my best shots by capturing only one at a time, which meant lowering the exposure to around f9 for proper exposure. Ideally you would be somewhere like Sydney Harbor that has a linear series of shots that do not explode in the exact same spot in the sky.
The last thing I would like to have changed, but is usually out of a persons control is the wind. If you could keep the wind blowing directly against your back as you face the display, that would help hide the smoke that easily lights up in your shot. I wasn’t too happy with the shots, but it was a good learning experience for next time.