How To Photograph Lightning The Easy Way

In the 4 years that I have been doing lightning photography I have been using a Point and shoot camera with great success.  The Camera I have been using is a Kodak Easyshare z730.  This point and shoot camera has a 64 second exposure option which will definetely put most or all Point and shoots in the basic range and This camera in the more advanced range.  Nonetheless, lightning photography is pretty easy.  The best times to photograph lightning is at night or early morning before the sun comes up.  The Most important items for lightning photography is the following. 

1. Any Camera with at least 10+ seconds of Exposure (basically when you press the shutter, the lens will stay open and catch any light in the frame)

2. A Sturdy stripod

3. Extra batteries for your camera

4. Extra Memory

5. Big ziploc bag to protect your camera from rain if its raining

6. Common sense.  Basically if you know the rules of lightning you will be fine. 

 

The rules of lightning are as followed.  If there is a storm and you see lightning and there isnt rain yet overhead, you should be fine.  If the rain comes and you hear thunder and see lightning, the chances of you getting hit my a bolt are high.  A Big rule to follow is never shoot lightning near a utility pole, or in an open field where you are the highest object.  For myself I tend to use cover of a car that I am driving or a nearby structure.  The biggest rule, is trust your heart, if you think its too dangerous, dont do it.

knowing the above will keep you safe.  Also know that the possibility of lightning striking hundreds of feet or miles from a storm is possible but rare.

GETTING SETUP………..

Considering you already understand how to watch the radar and check forecasts for a stormy day. On a day with thunderstorms expected around evening time I recommend you start charging your camera early in the day and charge the extra batteries if you have them.  Once everything is charged, mount your camera on the tripod and watch the radar closely.  Once a storm is near you use your eyes and your frame view of the camera to lock in where the lightning is occuring.  If its already dark and the lightning is close, start hitting your shutter to capture the lightning.

You might find yourself wondering what settings you should use for your point and shoot camera.  Basically what I use the following. 

1. Set Camera is Manual Mode

2. Set Exposure to the Longest available exposure.  10 seconds or more.

3. Set your F-stop to F8.   If the lightning is super close, then raise the Fstop to a higher number. If the lightning is far away lower the fstop as far as you can go.  Basically the higher the fstop, the less light, the lower the fstop more light.

4. Use ISO-100

With all these settings if a bolt strikes in front of the cameras view you will catch the bolt.  Depending on your memory cards speed will determine the processing time of the photo.

THINGS TO REMEMBER…………

Before you start pressing the shutter button, count the seconds in between lightning bolts. Once you found the number of seconds or minutes in between lightning bolts, plan your pressing of the shutter on those seconds or minutes from the next bolt.

Protect your camera.

Dont risk your life for a once in a lifetime shot.

Remeber, that this tutorial is not a recommendation to start taking lightning photographs and also that I cannot be held responsible for Your Injury or death for posting this.

Lightning is extremely dangerous and can and will kill you.  Always use precautions when taking pictures of any type of weather. 

MY FIRST LIGHTNING PHOTO FROM 2003…………………

 

MY BEST LIGHTNING PHOTOGRAPH SO FAR 2008……………….

 

If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will get back to you.   Have a great day.

 

-gerrit gulden