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Ray12 Plus
5 137 1 United Kingdom
11 Sep 2013 5:48PM
Hello every one.
At the moment I am in Nepal and at this time of year we are having lots of thunderstorms, is it possible for some one to run through what I need to do to be able to take lightning images.
I am using a A77, I have a tripod, and a selection of lenses, ie a 10-20 wide angle & a 24-70... I presume the settings in camera have to be made at the time according to conditions.
Many thanks Ray

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ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
11 Sep 2013 6:03PM
leave the camera taking exposures all night

Exposure - main thing is that the sky is reasonably dark on each frame - when the lightening strikes, it'll be LOADS brighter than the ambient light, so will burn out otherwise.

if you have your aperture too small, the smaller parts of the lightening may not register

if you have it too bright, the whole thing will be a blob of white

it's trial and error really... and luck... .and waiting

we get lightening once every decade here.... not that well practised Wink
11 Sep 2013 7:41PM
At night, about a 2.5 second exposure will capture most lightning strikes if you trigger it with a trigger, if you are guessing when the strike will start and using a remote, then perhaps a little longer

Set the duration of the exposure first and take a couple of test shots to ensure that your other settings produce acceptable dark exposure for framing of the strike

In daylight you will need to put some significant stopper darkness with a filter on to enable a correctly exposed shot with a 2 or more second exposure, again to attain an acceptable daylight exposure

If you need a trigger, simply google lightning triggers, there are a number on the market
11 Sep 2013 7:44PM
Hi Ray
This is what works for me –
a) Shooting at night is much easier
b) Shoot in Raw – I do this as most lightning shots tend to be a dark purplish/yellow cast depending on conditions – I change the white balance after to make a more balanced blue light effect which tends to have more impact.
c) Set camera on firm tripod to avoid shake (mirror up is useful) use a remote or cable to avoid camera shake failing that use self- timer
d) Use the widest lens you have – to get as much of sky and any interesting foreground , you can always crop later.
e) Shoot in manual and set lens to infinity
f) As you are shooting at night its dark obviously – the lightning strike or bolt is effectively like a large speedlite which lights up the sky and foreground – so use bulb setting
g) I open up shutter using cable – wait for a strike then close shutter, sometimes I will wait for a few strikes then close shutter.
h) Experiment – i.e. change aperture and shutter opening – depending on the lens I tend to use f/8 – f/11
i) Finally be aware of surroundings – it’s better to take a picture of a storm in the distance rather than when it’s over you and tripod!

Hope this helps
sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
11 Sep 2013 9:40PM
It goes without saying perhaps that you need to be very careful - don't take unnecessary risks, and keep an eye on what is happening around you. You wouldn't be the first photographer I've met who had been struck by lightening whilst trying to get that elusive image.

No one has mentioned composition - but it can still be important. Think about the FG etc. Obviously, and as others have suggested, get plenty of sky in the exposure. A slightly more distant storm can be easier (in my very limited experience) - you can usually see where most of the lightening strikes are happening - and this allows for the use of a telephoto lens. If the storm is closer - go wider.

Each lightening strike will act as a flash gun - leaving a trace on the image where it struck. I've had success using BULB and leaving the exposure for several strikes. I agree with Ade and wricha1407 in regard to aperture. Some reckon a dark card can be useful - placed in front of the lens between strikes (allegedly this is useful when the strikes are quite evenly spaced). I've never tried it.

Remember - be safe. Think rain, think electricity, think conductors. Preferably, you don't want to be near either...

Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
11 Sep 2013 9:52PM
Probably the best lightening photo I've ever seen is this.


Good luck with this it's something I'd love to try.
das7 4 33
11 Sep 2013 11:30PM
For what it's worth - I would take the shot in the rain and photoshop the lightning in when you get back!

Hope this helps Blush

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