Happy Valentine's Fireworks
Since you asked...I'll tell you everything I learned in 23 minutes if you'll keep in mind that 20 minutes of that time was shooting and only 3 minutes spent learning.
First, I lashed my monopod to a guard rail, adjusted the scene with a ballhead, and did not change it. I did not flip my camera horizontally because I needed the near foreground and the height to give the fireworks some dimension. From some other location, horizontal might have worked just as well.
I took about 70 shots and started out in P mode. Initially, I was getting too many blown-out shots (a matter of timing, I learned), so I switched to Manual for about 10 photos. I quickly realized in Manual that success depended on all the shots being approximately the same brightness, but fireworks vary so much that I wasn't happy with that approach. So I switched back to my old reliable (within limits) P mode.
At this point, any normal photographer would ask why I didn't use Aperture Priority -- and I would probably have to say ignorance and the pressure of the ticking clock. I nearly always shot AP with my SLR equipment, but it never seems to occur to me with the G2. Partly, I think, it's because of the greater depth of field you get with the G2. As you can see in the heart picture, the aperture is 2.2 and everything in the photo is nicely focused. Also at these apertures, I was getting faster shots. Having said all that, I would be inclined to try a few aperture priority shots next time.
With the P mode setting, I half-depressed the shutter, waited for a firework, waited through any blinding flash (a technique learned in the first 20 shots) and fully pressed the shutter when I liked what I saw -- either by looking directly at the fireworks (sometimes) or in the LCD (mostly).
The longest of any shutter speeds was about a second. Of 70 shots, there were about five that I found worth post-processing. The heart was worth the entire exercise for all the reasons that Howie was kind enough and astute enough to point out. I feel that fireworks need something terrestrial to ground them -- a ship or building or tree or something -- and add interest and scale to the scene. As for the wake, it's really not... I don't know where the wave action is coming from because all harbour traffic in the area is stopped for the fireworks. There was only one fireworks barge this year and it was directly under the heart. I do think the blown-out highlights work in this photo and I like the melting icicles effect.
I was fortunate to have found the location a year ago. The picture was taken from the Yacht Club in Causeway Bay. There was a cruise ship at Ocean Terminal in the far right corner (all lit up) and a lighter in the left foreground (that thing with a derrick for off-loading ships anchored in the harbor -- they're called lighters because they make the ships lighter).
So there you have it... you can imagine how much more I would have to impart if I'd studied for a full half-hour. The hidden message here is to take my fireworks thoughts in the same spirit you would take a book review, as just one man's opinion -- an opinion that may be revised next New Year's when I try again.
As for Chris' suggestion of a handicap, I find in the heat of battle that I regularly handicap myself with forgetfulness -- of things like aperture and flash exposure compensation (I'm thinking of an indoor lion dance earlier) and the like. Ah, well, we shoot and learn.
Thanks to everyone for your comments. Here's another for your patience...
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Canon G2, ISO 50, 1/13th second, 2.2 aperture.
I also discovered what happens when you shoot over 9999 pictures -- they start from zero again. As you probably would imagine.