• Focus – Use the manual focus and set your camera to infinity, this will insure a good shot when the lightning is off in the distance, check you camera because some have settings for beyond infinity and we just need it set to infinity.
  • Lighting shots – A few ideas on composing:

    Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel Exposure: 8 sec (8) Aperture: f/10 Focal Length: 40 mm ISO Speed: 400 Exposure Bias: 0 EV. Photo by NCBrian, Flickr

    Skylines

    Try to use the rule of thirds, a lot of photos that are great of lightning do not involve only the sky, you can get a good photo that includes land, sea, and cityscapes. When you choose a subject for the photo, make sure that it’s in field range of your depth selection too because you do not want your subject to be blurry. It takes time and practice but after a few shots you will start to understand and get the idea of what is needed. Most lightning photos include some type of landscape, but there are some great shots you can capture by aiming to the skies and trying to get a good shot. Set up your tripod, find the composition your looking for, and use the article to find your shutter speed and f stop. Make sure you take a couple of practice shots to check exposure and focus before you begin. Start shooting photos and keep shooting until you get the photo or photos you desire.

    The Shoot

    Since your working in the dark, make sure you have your camera set on manual mode. The camera can’t automatically set the aperture, focus and exposure on its own when taking these photos in the dark.

    Set the infinity focus mode, because most of what you capture will be in the distance. Set your exposure from a few minutes down to a few seconds, whoever you prefer. You can always correct the exposure later if it needs adjustment. Not all of your photos will be of the distance so keep checking your shots to make sure you’re still catching the results you’re looking for.

    Keep the flash off. Set the aperture to a smaller value because as you know, lightning is bright and with a small aperture it is ok, it will still be very visible in your photo. Sometimes while shooting lightning photos, even when set to automatic, the camera will flash due to your surroundings being darker.

    With the camera all set up, it is time to work on the scene, this is otherwise known as “framing”  the photo. Look for subjects in your photos that will react to the light of the lightning and give a good effect. You can check the shots as needed to do any adjustment you see necessary. Pick something that will get a great reflection or will allow the light to bounce and create a good effect.

    You can also play with the white balances and see the different effects you can capture with your camera, as well and color temperature differences. Playing with the settings only allows you to learn more about them anyway so you should never be afraid to try new shots.

    Just remember that taking photos of lightning requires patience, there is no knowing when the lightning will strike so you have to be on your toes and keep snapping shots. The availability of the digital camera is a great advantage here. Stay comfortable and be patient, keep yourself awake with your favorite treat of coffee, and make sure you’re safe and dry.  Now you’re ready to sit and wait, here is where a little good luck comes in handy too, nobody ever said it would be fast and easy so sit back and relax.

    Remember to always stay safe and that lightning is dangerous, stay away from tall objects and metal while in the storm. Remember the current from electricity can travel through the ground so staying safe can not be stressed enough. Stay grounded, dry and keep your safety above all else, you can not capture a great photo if you are injured.

    Conclusion

    Taking good photos of lightning is tough; you need patience, luck and good camera settings. Technically the task is simple but practically speaking its tough, this is because there is much more than just having the proper technique, you need time, patience and determination as well as good photography know- how to get the right picture. When all else fails all you have to do is take another shot, eventually you will see that all of the patience required is well worth the wait.

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