Just back from a vacation that included shooting fireworks. Although, I didn’t have a tripod with me, I did manage to get a couple of keepers. Without a tripod, the trick is to make sure you are very stable in your stance. I sat and used my arms as a two legged tripod resting against my knees. The goal is to be stable enough to deliver a sharp image at slower shutter speeds. Holding your breath when clicking the shutter helps too. That is how I was shooting that night.
Here are a few other tips on how to photograph fireworks.
1) Increase the ISO on your camera. Many newer cameras deliver low noise at ISO 800 and above, so I would not hesitate to use those speeds on your camera. It will help tremendously with higher shutter speeds and sharper images. In addition, if do you need to reduce noise, there are options in Photoshop, Lightroom and several Plug Ins such as Topaz Labs DeNoise and Nik’s Define that would accomplish that task. But often with the dark night as a background for the fireworks, noise is not very obvious.
2) Set your camera to Shutter Priority and for the image below I used a shutter speed of .5 of a second. You may need to increase this amount based on your quickness with the shutter release and if your camera is on a tripod. A longer shutter speed will let in more light, which also will lighten the dark sky. You could also use the Bulb setting on your camera that allows you to manually determine your shutter speed.
3) If possible, use a tripod or situate yourself where you can use your body as a tripod.
4) Use a lens with a wide focal length. For this image I used my Canon 24-105mm lens and shot at 24mm. If viewing an elaborate fireworks celebration, a wider lens would be beneficial. You would pick up more of the sky and the fireworks.
5) Once the camera is set up, try to get a feel for the timing of the fireworks and keep your camera positioned at the area where they go off. If you can use a remote cable release this is easy to do. When you see them hit your spot, press your shutter.
6) Be aware and adjust the camera settings as needed depending on your results.
Good luck and have fun!
Thanks for taking a look. More of my work can be viewed on my website.