I also like to shoot hand-held, using a 300mm, f/2.8 prime and stop-action shutter speeds to capture detailed individual burst and control the length of light trails.
Manual setting Tv &Av, manual pre-focusing to get correct distance and metering on a bright light source all apply.
However, my best technique, whether tripod mounted or hand-held, is listening to the detonations and, where possible, watching the faint upward trail of each bomb.
This lets me pick, with some accuracy, the displays that I want to capture.
The launch-charge detonation is nearly as loud as the bomb detonation so the loudest launches signal the biggest bombs.
There is a time delay that can be several seconds between launch and burst. I get the timing by simply counting it off: launch, 1,2,3 …… click.
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