Photographing fireworks on July 3

On July 3 we will meet by the fountains at Ithaca College to photograph the fireworks display at dusk.  Here’s a map; the fountains are between Job Hall and the Dillingham Center.  We will set up to the south of the fountains, between the fountains and the Center for Health Sciences.  To get there, go in the main entrance off of 96 and take the first right up the hill. There is a parking lot on the first left that serves the theater.  Walk along the path and you will find the fountains. There is more parking by turning left from the entrance road with a longer walk to the fountains.

A good starting point for camera settings is ISO 100, f/8 –  f/11, 5 sec. You will need to have your camera in manual mode to have control over ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.  Be sure to stop down for the grand finale or the additional brightness will blow out the colors and everything will look white.  I often stop down to at least f/14 and sometimes more.
A good focal length from behind the fountains is around 100-150mm; I usually use a 70-200mm lens when shooting from there.
I also use manual focus.  Start by setting focus on infinity while there is enough light to autofocus on a distant object, then set focus to manual and don’t touch the focus ring.  I usually tape down the focus ring so I don’t bump it accidentally.
Plan on using a tripod to stabilize your camera during the long exposures.
Most images of fireworks are composites, with several fireworks stacked up on one background shot.  If you don’t want to do post-processing to create a composite, you can try holding the shutter open for a longer duration and holding a black card over the front of the lens to act as a manual shutter, letting light in for multiple fireworks that, over time, become superimposed on a single long exposure.
Since you will be changing camera settings in the dark, you should be able to do it by feel (check your settings in the viewfinder or top display) or bring a small flashlight (with paper or tissue taped over it to make the light dimmer so you don’t affect other people’s exposures).
See this article for more tips for photographing fireworks.