Lightning

May 15, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Before we even touch the topic of lightning photography we need to talk about safety first. Please follow all safety directions given by your national weather services, and NO, rubber-soled shoes offer NO protection. In this blog we are not going to talk about night-time lightning photography for that is a simple task. Just open your shutter for a longish time while lightning strikes and you have your shot. That however, does not work well for day-time lightning photography. Yes, I am well aware that you can use Neutral Density Filters to slow your shutter speed down during the day. However, that will leave you with lightning bolts that are very faint with little contrast.

          If you are serious about day-time lightning photography, get yourself a lightning trigger. The one that I believe to be the best is the one from Stepping Stones (https://lightningtrigger.com/). I am not sponsored or affiliated with them in any way, in fact, they don't even know who I am (other than buying mine from them). Let's get into the best camera settings:

          Pre-focus and then set your camera/lens on manual focus. Shoot in manual mode with a shutter speed at between 1/4 and 1/20th of a second. Keep your ISO as low as possible. Pick an aperture to balance your exposure. Feel welcome to play with either your ISO or your aperture to get the right exposure because your shutter speed is the most important setting. If you are at the lowest ISO and a small aperture and your image is still over exposed then use a mild Neutral Density Filter (as mild as possible to get the exposure right).

A photo of lightning in the sky will rarely be as interesting as one with something in the foreground. A foreground will add scale and interest.

This image was taken around sunset or just thereafter. Is this not a much better image than one with just a bolt in the clouds? Make sure the know the weather patterns of your location. You need to know where the storms come from and how they move. Then go scouting long before the storms come. Find location that will work. The best locations are often the one with an open view to lots of sky.

          Place your camera and trigger on a sturdy tripod. Anchor it into the ground so that the wind cannot blow it over. Protect your camera and trigger from the rain. Get everything ready and started before the storm is close or dangerous. Then go and wait in a safe place and retrieve your gear later. Be ready to be amazed with possible nice images.


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