How to Photograph Lightning - Tutorial & Pro Tips 4K
How to Photograph Lightning
Lightning photography is a difficult process that relies on skill, timing, and luck. It is impossible to know exactly when and where lightning may strike, and most people don't have the reflexes necessary to capture a lightning strike as it occurs. Because of this, the best method of photographing lightning is to meticulously set up a camera, open its shutter, and wait. By closing the shutterafterthe strike has already happened, you are much more likely to successfully photograph lightning.
Pick the right camera.Purchase or borrow a camera that is good for use in landscape photography. The camera must have the capability for manual focus and remote shutter release. A digital display is also useful for lining up your shot and for correcting unforeseen image quality issues mid-shoot.
- Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are ideal for photographing lightning.
- Compact "point and shoot" cameras often respond too slowly and don't always have the required features. If you would like to use a compact camera, test it out first.
Attach an optional specialty lens to your camera.While not necessary, a wide-angle zoom lens works best for lightning photography. The wide angle will allow you to fit more into the shot, maximizing your chances of catching an interesting lightning strike. Meanwhile, a zoom lense will give you the ability of adjusting the focal length to target a specific area. This option is especially useful in case the storm shifts position or you decide to focus on an interesting nearby object instead of the horizon.
Find a suitable location.Not only is trying to take photographs in the middle of a storm dangerous, but it is also unlikely to produce quality photos. The optimal distance for lightning photographs is somewhere between roughly 6 and 10 miles from the storm. Any closer is too dangerous. Any further will likely give you small, blurry lightning strikes that look relatively unimpressive.
- Figure out which direction the storm is moving. It's best to position yourself so that the storm movesacrossyour field of view rather that towards or away from it. This will ensure that the storm will remain an optimal distance from you for as long as possible.
- There are a few ways to determine a storm's direction. If the storm is moving fast enough, you can easily see its pattern of movement and use a compass. However, if you have access to the Internet, the most accurate way is to check your local meteorologist for details or use a storm tracking application.
- Pick an interesting vantage point. The best lightning photographs are usually framed in such a way to include something else that's visually interesting, such as a city skyline or a natural monument. This gives the viewer a frame of reference for understanding the storm's large size.
Set up some type of camera support.For lightning photographs, you will be using camera settings that cause the slightest movement to ruin an otherwise great shot. Don't try to hold your camera in your hands. You can use any object that keeps still to mount your camera. While a traditional tripod can work great, you can place your camera on something as simple as a bean bag chair for greater flexibility.
- No matter what you use for support, try to skew your camera's field of view up towards the sky.
Stay safe.It is important to have a good view of the storm, but don't get too close. Successive lightning strikes often occur two to three miles apart,so keep in mind that you will need to stay a significantly larger distance away. Even so, lightning can also strike far from a storm's center and certain additional precautions should be taken:
- Don't use an umbrella.
- When using a tripod, you should also use an extra long shutter release cable. A metal tripod can act as a lightning rod, and you want to be as far away from a potential lightning strike as possible.
- If possible, stay inside a building or a car with the windows rolled up.
- Stay at least 50 feet away from water and tall structures like trees and buildings.
Selecting Your Camera's Settings
Set your camera for manual focusing.Lightning strikes are too fast for your camera's autofocus to follow. Keeping autofocus turned on will probably give you blurry photos, since the autofocus will continuously "hunt" for an object to focus on between shots. Many cameras have an external physical switch to change between automatic and manual focus. If your camera doesn't, try looking through the camera's advanced settings via its digital display.
Switch your camera's focus to "infinity." You will not have time to focus on an individual lightning strike, so it's best to keep your camera focused on a static position. Infinity focus will keep your camera focused where lightning islikelyto strike. Infinity focus will bring everything past a certain point on the horizon into focus.
- The infinity focus setting is typically indicated by the infinity symbol, which looks like a sideways figure 8.
- When using a detachable lens, the infinity focus setting is usually part of its focus ring.
- Infinity focus is becoming less common of a feature on newer model cameras. Many of these cameras have lenses that can focus beyond what was previously termed infinity. When photographing lightning with these cameras, try shifting the manual focus as far away as possible at first. You may need to take a few test shots to find the perfect focus for capturing lightning on film.
Set your camera's ISO to a medium one.ISO is essentially a measurement of how sensitive your camera is to light. If you're working under brighter conditions, a lower ISO is appropriate. For darker situations, you will need a higher, more sensitive ISO. The exact ISO best for your particular situation will vary, so it's best to find it through trial and error with a few test shots.
- An ISO of around 200 is often recommended as a good place to start for lightning photography.
- Most DSLR cameras have a physical button for ISO settings, while compact cameras typically have them under a digital menu.
- The lower the ISO or film speed, the less noise you will have. Because of this, it's best to use the lowest ISO that gives you a clear picture.
Set the shutter speed to "B" or "Bulb." This setting will allow you to manually control your camera's shutter and, consequently, its exposure time.
- Tripping the shutter on a camera at the exact moment that lightning strikes is nearly impossible to do. Using the bulb setting keeps the shutter open until you manually close it again.
- If your camera does not let you manually control the shutter, set its speed to the longest available, which should be between 10 to 30 seconds.
Taking the Shot
Use a remote control to open the shutter.Once your setup is perfect, you can finally start to photograph lightning. Start the process by opening the shutter.
- A remote shutter will both keep you out of harm's way and eliminate blurriness caused by manually pressing a button on the camera.
Close the shutter after lightning strikes.Wait a few seconds for lightning to strike. After it does, close the shutter using your remote control.
- When fairly close to a storm, exposure time should be no longer than 15 seconds.
- For storms that are further away, exposure time can be anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 minutes.
- In photography, "exposure time" is the length of time that light is allowed to enter the camera, creating an image. It's the time period between when you open and close the shutter.Most lightning photography techniques use long exposure times.
Review your photos and change settings if needed between strikes.When it comes to photographing lightning, there is no one size fits all list of settings that will get you perfect pictures every time. Every situation is unique, so you will need to use your own judgment.
- Because most cameras now have screens that let you immediately see your shots, you can check to see if your image quality is acceptable during your shoot.
- If the photographs seem overexposed or too noisy, try reducing the ISO.
- If the photographs are too dim, try increasing the ISO.
- If the lightning seems out of focus, try adjusting your lens.
- If the lightning isn't sharp and adjusting the focus doesn't help, try increasing the shutter speed. The less time the shutter is left open, the sharper your pictures will be.
QuestionThere's no mention of aperture settings! Where's a good starting point?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry F15, it is best to have a long exposure; just take a few test photographs beforehand.Thanks!
- Try stacking your lightning shots with image editing software. Sometimes a session of lightning photography doesn't yield any big impressive pictures but instead gives you quality shots of many small discrete lightning strikes. Through an image processing method called stacking, you can combine these all into one picture. It is essential that you do not change lens focal length or move the camera or tripod between shots, otherwise photo stacking will not work due to misalignment of stationary elements in the scene.
- Make absolutely sure that your camera support is stabilized. Storms also bring wind gusts that may be strong enough to move the support.
- Once the shutter is open on your camera, it is critical the camera stays as still as possible. This is to avoid the appearance of out-of-focus shots, or what is known as camera blur. Camera blur is impossible to correct in editing.
- If a nighttime scene, after selecting a shutter speed and ISO, choose an aperture to give some under-exposure of the scene without the lightning, to allow for the extra illumination coming from the lightning flash. Try initially for about 2-3 stops under-exposure, and adjust ISO and/or aperture for the right exposure to suit your own taste. If a daytime scene, you should try for a proper exposure without lightning, since the flash will not add that much additional illumination. Also, for daytime photography, you will need a neutral density filter, maybe as much as a 10 stop strength, to get the slow shutter speeds discussed above.
Video: HOW To Photograph LIGHTNING!
How to Make a Viral Video
5 Sephora Shopping Hacks Every Woman Should Know
11 Alternative Advent Calendars That Arent Just Filled With Cheap Chocolate
The Best Looks from The Men’s Spring 2019 Collections
Cute DIY Tank Top For This Season
Preserve Your Pearly Whites for Good Health
Know the Most Common Types of Cancer
How to Upload a Slideshow on Instagram
Toning Up Without the Bulk
Fall Closet Essentials
Curly Bob Hair Styles: Jena Malone Haircuts
How to Train Your Dog for the Trails