Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Capturing the Storm

By : Stiksy

I have learned that lightning photography is part skill, part luck and as you mostly have to shoot outdoors a lot of risk!

Firstly you have to wait for the right storm, one that allows you to take her photo and doesn't decide to wipe you and your equipment out. I am not a storm chaser as such but when the opportunity presents itself I certainly do try to take advantage of the moment without getting fried in the process!!

Source :

Its difficult to say exactly how to take time exposures of lightning as factors such as storm conditions, lighting conditions, ISO settings, aperture settings, camera type and lense choice all come together to produce the final image. Often a weather front comes through and you miss the approaching storm due to heavy rain and have to wait until it passes.
Most night-time storm photography I have seen or taken myself is distant over dark horizons where the shutter has been left open until the lightning strikes and then closed to prevent further exposure.
In this instance I had to deal with some other factors.
Before ever taking any lightning photos, I first learned the art of night-time exposure of city lights using my canon film slr and a lot of film rolls to get the right balance between exposure and detail. I also learned that a slower ISO setting produces a lot less noise/grain so I keep this in mind when shooting storm photography.
So on this particular night, I was lucky enough to be positioned in front of the approaching storm with enough time to catch some lightning strikes before it was rained/hailed out.
I decided to go for a smaller aperture f22 and a timing of 20 seconds to allow enough time for the sensor to register the city lights in detail and also in the hope of registering a lightning strike or two.
Well luckily it all came together this evening!!
If you look closely at the photo, you can notice a haze around the buildings and the lightning bolt on the right side of the frame is faded. This is because of the rapidly approaching rain and hail that minutes later after taking this photo completely covered the city and prevented any further shooting.
My next goal is to capture lightning spreading skywards over the entire city. Once again I will have to be patient and wait for the right conditions.

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