Sunday, June 1, 2014

Taking pictures of lightning

The whole idea is to have the camera taking a picture all the time. That way you will get the lightning whenever it strikes randomly.

To do this, you have to set the camera to take very long exposures. You set the ISO very low, 50-200, the F-stop very high F16 or higher, and the speed to 30 seconds or if your camera has it bulb. If you're using bulb you can to hold down the shutter button for one or two minutes.

The reason this works it's because lightning is brighter than the Sun. And you are taking the picture for a very long time. So when the lightning strikes, you are already taking the picture, and since the lightning is so bright you get the lightning. If the exposure is a real long time, say a minute and it hasn't lightning'd yet, you just stop the exposure by letting go of the shutter release and then you start a new exposure. Most cameras do not have speed settings longer than 30 seconds. That's why I use bulb. I have a shutter release that has a lock on it so when I press it in bulb mode the exposure is continuous until I release the shutter.

You can test how your exposures are doing by stopping the exposure after one or two minutes and take a look at the picture. My picture includes a house and trees across the street and you may want to see them but I like to keep them dark.  So adjust the exposure by adding more/less time.  A good lightning shot can have some sky showing.  So adjust exposure accordingly.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Try it, it's not rocket science, it's just technically setting up the camera and some luck of the strike.