In schools around the UK, children are chanting the old nursery rhyme: "Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder, treason, should ever be forgot." Study the words closely and you'll see it's acceptable to forget about the plot, which probably explains why 'Guy Fawkes Night' has mutated into 'Bonfire Night' and more latterly, 'Bonfire and Fireworks Week'.
With a little planning, you could easily attend three or four fireworks displays, but how will you remember them? With photographs, obviously, but capturing the transient magic that makes everyone 'ooh' and 'aah' can be quite a challenge. Here's our guide to the best advice on the Web.
• Start with Shooting Fireworks with a Digital Camera from the New York Institute of Photography, a good general guide to shooting pyrotechnics. Top tip: "Bring a small flashlight. Since you are going to be shooting in the dark, bring a small light so you are not fumbling with your camera's controls and settings, not to mention changing memory cards etc."
• Feeling ambitious? Fireworks and Fun on the PBS Web site has tips from the staff photographers at the Smithsonian Institution, who explain how they cover events on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Top tip: "Find out which way the wind is blowing and get upwind. Fireworks create smoke and if the wind blows it towards your position it not only blocks the shot but makes it uncomfortable to shoot." Learn Night Photography by John Harvey gives the optimum shutter speeds for photographing fireworks, sparklers and bonfires. Top tip: "Blue fireworks are difficult to capture (they are dim) and green fireworks are generally the brightest."
• If you're doing your research while the rest of the family is putting on their coats, Fireworks Photography boils it down to four questions: which camera, which lens, camera settings and when to shoot. Top tip: "A good place to start is with a 4s exposure at f8 with the camera set to ISO 100."
• Not sure whether it's worth the effort? Visit the Fireworks group on Flickr, browse through the 8,000-plus shots taken by Flickr members and check out the discussions. Top tip (from Aaron Chilcott): "Holding a camera is not a good idea ... a tripod is good, but a nearby car roof, with a bit of paper or stick or anything to adjust the angle of the camera is fine. Even a fence post or a stump can do a good job."
Whether you're photographing back-garden fireworks or a big professional display, wrap up warmly, take lots of pictures and have a great time. -ML