Who are we to disagree with a guy like John Adams? Get out there and BBQ, hang with your family, and see some pyrotechnics!
While you're watching $40,000 worth of explosions, why not document the moment with some awesome photos? "Because photographing fireworks is hard" you say. Have no fear, with these simple tricks, you can be the envy of the Facebook/Twitter sphere!
1. Exposure. Nailing the exposure is the most critical, and difficult, aspect of shooting a fireworks display. It is difficult because you are photographing something really bright against a really dark background. The key to dramatic firework shots is having a sky that is not completely black, but a nice cobalt blue. How do you determine the exposure? You guess. I find ten seconds at f16 and ISO 400 is a good starting point (ten second exposures make a tripod a necessity here). F16 gives you enough depth of field to keep everything in focus (focusing on explosions in the dark is hard), so adjust your shutter speed up or down until you get the sky looking right. Be careful with really long exposures though. If you get much longer than 15 seconds, or there a lot of fireworks going off at once, you will just get a white blob where pretty fireworks should be. See below.
I'll be laying in the grass clicking the shutter at fireworks shooting off over a lake this holiday. Here's hoping you give yourself a challenge and shoot some fireworks this weekend!
PS Want more details? Here's a link with some good stuff: http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-photograph-fireworks
PPS I photographed these photos at the Relay For Life of Hudson this summer. Want to help find a cure? Click this link to find a Relay For Life near you.