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How to Take Epic Fireworks Photos. Add Lightning!

Hope you all had a wonderful fourth of July weekend! :)

This fourth of July, I decided to go out and finally take some fireworks photos of my own so that I wouldn’t have fomo looking through everyone’s instagram feed. I feel like it’s been a few consecutive years where I told myself I would go, but when it came down to it, I was lazy and didn’t want to deal with the crowds.

We were originally going to head to Green Valley Ranch’s Fireworks show for Las Vegas locals, but after seeing the line of cars turning off the exit, we decided to secure our own private spot. We did a lot of walking and climbing hills in flip flops through dark, unfamiliar territory.

Fireworks Photos Las Vegas | How to take photograph fireworks.Pin

And we also almost got struck by lightning. We could see the storm getting closer and closer to us and we happened to be at a high point with metal tripod. No biggie. BUT this made it all worth it:

Las Vegas Lightning Photos and Fireworks Photos.Pin
Settings: Canon 5D Mark III, 35mm, ISO 125, 7sec, f/14

I don’t know how many times I’ve attempted to take lightning photos. Seriously, every time we happen to chase a storm, the minute I take my finger off the trigger is when I would miss the lightning strike. This time it practically fell into my lap. Though it was kind of a fail for getting good close up shots of fireworks photos, there’s always next year! :)

A few basic tips if you actually want to learn to take lightning / fireworks photos:

  • Use a tripod (we use this one). Instead of a tripod, you can also get a beanbag or make your own, find whatever else that will stabilize your camera!
  • Use the bulb setting with a shutter release (this is the one we use) – meaning the shutter will be open for however long your trigger is pressed.
  • Bring appropriate lenses. Really depends on how far you are from the fireworks, but from our viewpoint, I probably would have used our 70-200mm.
  • Look up the weather. We quickly realized that it’s safest to wait for the storm to pass and photograph it as it’s going away.

Some additional resources on how to take fireworks photos:

Some additional resources on how to take lightning photos:

Anyone else wanna be a storm chaser?! What’s one thing that you’ve been dying to try to photograph?

xoxo esther

Linking up with Treat Yo Self with TreasureTromp today. This is my gratitude post for week 43. 9 more weeks to go! Click the banner below to see other gratitude posts:
Week 42 Practicing Gratitude: 5 Reasons Why I Haven't Left My Husband.Pin

This Post Has 66 Comments

  1. Kristine Foley

    Holy amazing photos! Thanks for sharing the tips! I need to take my big girl camera out and go to town. Seriously love Vegas looking in!

    1. Thank you Kristine! :) It’s definitely a pain sometimes to take it around.. but I think for events like this it’s totally worth it! haha that’s me after finally going this year.. I think it took me 5 or so years of telling myself I was gonna go.

  2. Neely

    These are great tips and pictures!

  3. Raewyn Smith

    OMGOSH these are amazing!! I vaguely watched all of this from our hotel window as everyone in our group was getting in a drunken fight and crying, so I’m EXTRA happy you captured this!

    On our way home on Saturday, I totally spent an hour or two in the car TRYING to catch the lightning on our drive. I ended up filming it and then spent another 30 minutes trying to pause and screenshot it. Apparently the lightning was within a second of my video footage. Between 17 and 18 seconds. So annoying! :)

    Your photography is just beyond incredible

    1. Thanks girl!! :) The fireworks were going off practically everywhere. We couldn’t tell which ones where what. Sounds like you guys had an eventful evening…? Crying really?

      Seriously.. lightning is the hardest to get!! It’s always in between!

      1. Raewyn Smith

        haha, yes, there was a lot of crying. Boy crying which I shouldn’t mention on the internet :P

  4. Chelsea

    Those pictures are incredible!! Love them!

  5. These are all great tips! I didn’t use a tripod with mine so they aren’t as sharp as could be, but I very very rarely use a tripod.

    1. Thanks Jessica! Yeah.. I rarely use tripods.. I’m so used to being on the go.. but I just started using it this year. It’s a bit annoying to lug around but luckily my husband doesn’t mind :P

  6. Katreena Short

    Holy crap-oly. These photos are gorgeous. I will need to remember this next year!


  7. Starr Joy

    OMG! Love these pictures!

  8. Amanda Wooldridge Haney

    This is great. I love the pictures, they’re epic!

  9. Rebekah

    Love this!! Pinned for reference :)

  10. Ashley

    Gorgeous photos! Pinned for later use :)

  11. Anosa

    wow love the one with lightening,looks really beautiful x

  12. Jordan

    I love this blog more and more everyday. GREAT photos!

  13. Hsiao-Ting

    wow that looks amazing! congrats on getting your lightening shot!!

  14. Christen

    Thank you! My fireworks pics were a mess!

  15. songbirdsandbuttons

    Holy cow lady! Those photos are GORGEOUS!!

  16. Jenn

    What gorgeous photos! The lightning is almost unreal!

  17. Erika

    Those pictures are insane! I love everything that’s going on: the lightning, the Strip, and the fireworks!

      1. Erika

        Pretty enticing… or shall I say: enlightening? Hehehehe

  18. Rosy Villa

    I love pictures like these. That picture with fireworks, Vegas lights, and lightning all in one picture, beautiful! Came across your blog from treat yo self link up, and your blog is lovely.

  19. Jenny Collier

    Gorgeous shots!

  20. Esther, I so wish I had this on the fourth!! I am really intimidated about using my fancy camera at night and this really helps!

    1. Yeah I definitely prefer taking photos in the day over night just because you’re much more free and mobile.. but it’s not so bad with a tripod and a trigger. :) I had to get used to it.. and also stretch my patience a bit. haha I hate having to *wait* for the shot.. I’d love to see you take some night photos! :)

  21. Awesome shots! Thanks for the round up of tips too! Since I just go my camera I attempted a few this year just to try it. I got a few that were ok.

    1. Thanks M! :) Let’s see them! Yeah.. it definitely takes some getting used to.. and some trial and error.. but once you play around with it enough.. you’ll get it soon enough! Now my issue is anticipating when things will happen. I forgot to add this up there.. but apparently you open the shutter whenever you hear the sound of the firework and then close it after one is complete. Some people use something dark to cover up their lens in between and just leave the shutter open the entire time.. that did not work for me as well bc i’m quicker with the trigger release.

  22. Amy

    shut up. Esther – these are AMAZING!!

  23. Breenah

    I finally got a couple decent pictures of fireworks this year (but I just used the fireworks setting because I am NOT a photographer), but I LOVE the fireworks/lightning picture.

    1. I had no idea there’s a fireworks setting!! :) Learned something new! I would totally use that if I had a fireworks setting :) Thank you!

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