How do you capture lightning?!

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by John the Greek, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. John the Greek

    John the Greek TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Long Island and Ithaca
    I was at the grand canyon last week and at night there was a thunderstorm across the canyon, setting my camera solid on ledge, and setting it for f16 or f19, and a shutter speed of 30 seconds, I was hoping to capture some lightning.
    I know for a fact that lightning struck during some of the 30 seconds exposures, and I took about 5-6 photos too... yet in the prints, no photos showed any lightning.
     
  2. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    3,795
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Texas
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    that's strange, sounds about how i would do it. maybe try using a wide aperture and high ISO speed, then wait until you see one and quick click off the shutter. you have to be fast, but it will work.





    :D


    ok really though, that's how it (i think) i supposed to be done. are the pictures abnormally dark or anything?
     
  3. SLOShooter

    SLOShooter TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2004
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    0
    What did they look like? Underexposed or overexposed?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,822
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    30 seconds is a long time...

    Unless it was really dark, you would probably end up with really overexposed photos. If it was a dark night, then that might work but then you only get the lighting and no foreground.
     
  5. capturedinfocus

    capturedinfocus TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Indiana
    I'm not an expert, but I have a theory...

    Think of each photo in "layers". Say...every 1/10th of a second is a "layer". That would mean that there are 300 "layers" in a 30 second period of time. If lightning lasts for the first 4/10ths of a second of your 30 second time period, you're looking at 296 "layers" of darkness over only 4 "layers" of light. You've captured the lightning, but you're making it more and more transparent with every "layer" of darkness that your camera records. In the end, your lightning is so transparent that you cannot see it.

    I would guess that your shutter speed should have been more in the range of ...probably half of what it was?
     
  6. wharrison

    wharrison TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Northwestern Michigan
    John the Greek:

    Your posting reminded me of a "trick" I once played on my neighbor, when I was a very young teenager (decades ago). During the previous weeks or month, I had taken several of my (then) first slides of lightning during a good old central Illinois prairie thunderstorm. For my first efforts, I was rather pleased - well they turned out to be rather good.

    Several weeks later, we had another good, old rumbling thunderstorm travel through Peoria, IL and I decided to play a trick on our neighbor, who was an engineer at Keystone Steel and Wire Company. His son, Walter, (Wally) and I were the same age.

    So one evening, I loaded up a nice slide in my Dad's trusty Bell & Howell slide projector and projected the image onto his white stucco house from my second story bedroom and turned off the lights. I then called Wally's father up and "informed" him that the lightning storm of recent past seemed to have produced tiny 'cracks' in his plastered stucco house and expressed my "concern".

    Earl came running out of the house, saw the "cracks", saw the light coming out of my Dad's projector, and muttered more than a few undefinable words, and went disgustingly back into his home.

    Oh well.

    By the way, I did a quick and dirty search on Google for "photographing lighting" and came up with the following sites for you and others to enjoy.

    Hope you find them useful sources of inspiration and information for your lightning endeavors!

    Bill


    Here's one link with illustrations. Enjoy!

    http://www.cimms.ou.edu/~doswell/ltgph.html

    Here's another interesting link. Again, enjoy! If you live in Indiana, you might be able to join them.

    http://www.inchase.org/outflow/chad/lightningphoto.html

    Here's a third source. Again, enjoy!

    http://www.uscoles.com/phlightn.htm

    And here's a fourth interesting source!

    http://www.lightningsmiths.com/
     
  7. Unimaxium

    Unimaxium TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2004
    Messages:
    2,689
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Northeastern University, originally from Philly
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Not quite. Because if the sky is completely dark during the time that the lightning is not flashing, then the film is simply not being exposed at that time. If lightning comes along, it will expose the film, and then after the flash the sky will go dark again and stop exposing it. Nothing special happens to the film when the shutter is opened if there is no light to hit it. If you're exposing a pitch-black scene then it's essentially the same as when the film is sitting in its cassette. And we know that if you leave a roll of exposed film sitting out for, say, 3 days, then your developed image won't be any more transparent or opaque than if you had left it out for 1 day.

    As for John the Greek, are you sure that the lightning struck in front of the camera? Maybe it was just out of the frame or something and that you just weren't aimed in the right direction to capture it?

    If that's not it, then maybe the only other thing I can think of is what ISO film did you use? If you used something like ISO 50 at f19, then maybe the lightning simply didn't expose enough on the film.
     
  8. BernieSC

    BernieSC TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    South Carolina
    the same way you collect moon beams in jar LOL
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page

how to capture lightning and thunderstorms

,

how to capture thunderstorm

,

how would you capture lightning

,

thunerstorm nukon how to