Tim’s Photo Tips: lightning Photos

lightning storm blogI  was lucky enough to spent some time at the beach this past week and came away with lots of photos. One of my favorite things is to shoot summer lightning storms over the water. A lot has to do with timing so it is not something you can schedule but there is a greater chance of thunder storms at the beach. You just have to be prepared and patient.

In order to take these kind of photos you will need a Digital camera with manual control and a good wide-angle lens. Probably a 24mm or 28mm lens is ideal to get the most coverage. A  D-SLR is preferred for this type of photography because of how much more light it gathers. Some of today’s Point and Shoot cameras have the capability to take this type of photo but it is much harder to do. You will also need a good stable tripod. It takes a longer time exposure to get the photo so the camera has to be steady while the shutter is open. To start , you need to take the camera off of Auto ISO and to set the ISO manually to a low setting. (100 ISO or 200 ISO) The simplest way to shoot is to then set the camera for manual exposure. You will have to set the shutter speed and aperture. For shutter speed you want to set it to “B”. This stands for “bulb” which means as long as you hold your finger on the shutter release the shutter stays open. Another option is to use a remote control and lock the shutter open so that you do not risk shaking the camera with your hand. Then you want to start with an aperture somewhere in the middle like F-8. As you shoot and check out your images on play back you will then raise or lower the aperture for the correct lighting.

So, the camera is on the tripod and locked in the proper position to over see a wide view of the lightning. Turn the Auto Focus off on the lens and set the focus for infinity. If you are using a Point and Shoot camera set it for the Mountain setting in Scene Mode.Also, because you are using a tripod you have to turn off the image stabilization (VR). Open the shutter and keep it open until you see your 1st good strike. Close the shutter and check out the image on the LCD. If it looks too dark open the aperture another stop to F-5.6 or lower. If it looks too bright close the aperture down to F-11 or higher. Depending on how close to your postion the lightning strikes are will determine how bright or dark the light will be. For my photo, the strikes were very far away and required a 32 second exposure time at an aperture of F-5.6. Of course it is a double-edged sword. The closer you are to the lightning the better the photo but the closer you are to lightning. I waited until the storm had passed over head and then when it was miles away and the rain had stopped I went out to shoot.

Hopefully I have not left anything out but I’ve gone on long enough. Happy shooting. I would love to see your results so please share. And I am always willing to give more advice here in the store.
The best thing I can tell everyone is that if you ever take a photo and it is not what you thought it should be then that is when you need to learn. That is what we are here for at Wholesale Photo. Bring in your camera and the photo and let us help you understand how to get the photo the way you would like.

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