How to photograph lightning

Lightning is one of my favorite natural subjects to photograph. It's very rewarding to capture a detailed bolt without overexposing the image.

If you would like to photograph lightning, first make sure you are in a safe place. The safest place is outside of the storm itself, but if you happen to be caught in the storm, use your best judgment and stay away from large objects such as trees, power lines, and anything else that might attract a lightning bolt. Also, make sure you're not the tallest object around.

You'll need to use a tripod and shoot long exposure shots anywhere from 2-30 seconds. If either the lightning or sky is too bright, consider using a Neutral Density filter to decrease the amount of light entering your lens. Use manual focus and set it to infinity. Practice doing this before you're in the middle of the storm. Play with the aperture settings to meet your situation. You may find that a wide open aperture is best, but that might over expose your shot if they're blasting close by.

Use your shortest focal length so that you're covering more sky, and don't be afraid to continually have a picture in the works. Last time I photographed lightning, I took 150 pictures and ended up with about 5 good ones.

If your camera is compatible with a remote, that's a good idea too. The picture will be even more steady because the camera can shake slightly when you press the shutter button. It will also allow you to have your camera set up in the right position, while you're somewhere safe. I recommend using a cover for your camera to keep it from getting wet.



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