Photo: Intro to Lightning

Lightning photography is an interesting challenge to photograph. The problems I faced when a storm came through last night were:

– unpredictable timing
– unpredictable location of lighting (hard to frame)
– unpredictable distance/intensity/brightness of lightning

In order to compensate for the unpredictable timing, I set my camera to continuous shooting drive, with a big CF card, and manual shutter speed. I held down the button so I’d have continuous exposures to avoid missing a strike.

The inconsistent locations were easier to deal with as I just whipped out my Tokina f/2.8 11-16mm lens and framed as much of the horizon I could out my window.

The hardest part of the shooting was finding the ideal aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings for the camera. I started with longer exposures (about 10 sec), but found the images would get blown out if the lightning was too close/bright – even with my lowest ISO (100) and f/7.1.

I slowly brought the shutter speed to about 2 seconds with ISO 200 and f/5.0-7.1, and found this seemed to work for the lightning. With some trial and error, I was able to get the following shots:

This one seems to have the lightning coming out of the cloud:

This one is my favorite:

There are a few more shots on my Flickr.

Tell me what you think! let me know how you shoot lightning! I want to see how other people do it without so many wasted shots!

Of course, after the fact, I look up how to do lightning and find a pretty comprehensive guide here. Next time it storms, I’ll be ready!

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One Comment

  1. Ron McDonald
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    These are clearly photoshopped.

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