Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to Photograph a Thunderstorm

Storms and lightning create beautiful opportunities for photography. The bolts of light are powerful and will make any scene dramatic but only if you can capture them.
To capture lightning you have to behave like a hunter, shooting and shooting until something is caught, focus and expose for the landscape you are using shooting 20 or 30 seconds exposures depending on the level of brightness in your scene. Something like ISO400, F11 and 20 seconds is a good way to start and you can adjust the parameters after taking a couple of sample shots before the hunt begins. Check focus carefully, it’s difficult to focus at night and out of focus bolts are not nice at all.
Use a remote intervalometer and program it to take dozens, even hundreds of shots one after the other. While the camera is taking the shots you can take a nice cup of coffee while you are warm and dry. You can also buy a specialized device as the Lightning Trigger to make the camera shoot only when lightning is detected.
Once the storm is finished examine the photographs looking for the best bolts and then create a composite scene merging all the nice shots in one. Load the shots in your photo editor as layers and play with different blending modes to find the best mode for your final image. Luminosity mode works quite well in several cases, other modes can be even better so always try them.
Lightning storms are fast, our brain usually remembers a mix of all the bolts and lights that we saw, that’s why a single photograph usually seems to do no justice to what we remember. The composite shot is usually more dramatic and even more similar to what we remember. Sometimes reality is the sum of events.

37 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to capture lightning!

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  2. whoa. words cannot express the awesome.

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  3. i always wanted to do that but somehow i didn't manage to do it.

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  4. I wish i could hug your blog... thanks for all the great tips mate!

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  5. I never knew they had a thing that detected lightning. I could never figure out how they always got it right when it happened.

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  6. This is awesome. I tried photographing lighting before and failed miserably. Maybe I'll give it a shot again after reading this.
    The air smells like thunder tonight, I think I'll go hunting!

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  7. This sounds like something for the adventurous. Dont know if I would be able to hang outside waiting for lightning.

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  8. i love thunder storm photos. simply stunning the things earth can do

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  9. I really needed a how-to about photographing lightnings.This is a very useful tutorial for me.Thanks for posting it!

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  10. I tried one day but I dont have the right equipment !

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  11. Stunning photos, so gotta try this!

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  12. Beautifull scene! :D
    I would be terrified to be in one of those buildings lol

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  13. Something about photographing something that could kill me always makes me more interested. :P

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  14. I love this kind of photography, always looks awesome

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  15. This is awesome, I would love to capture lightning.

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  16. Went to the beach today and forgot my camera. :(

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  17. Wow! Kind of makes me think the world is ending.

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  18. this looks epic need to try this

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  19. wow now there're often lot of thunders in my living place but no usually at afternoon not night

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  20. Epic! have to try this soon! *praysforthunder*
    Following your blog!

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  21. So this is how its done. THANKS!

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  22. We had a thunderstorm last night, i tried taking pics but it didnt work out too well. :(

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  23. I've wanted to try this before too.

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  24. Must be very hard to get a shot like that

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  25. Awesome shots, must be a bit dangerous though

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  26. too pro... your pics are amazing =D

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  27. Interesting post! Been getting a ton of weird lightning storms in toronto.

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  28. Your blog is full of useful tips, I hope to soon have money to buy my camera!

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  29. I saw some awesome lightning like this a few days back, I'm not a photographer and I was working but if those two statements were false I would have tried for some shots haha

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