How do you shoot lightening?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Sarah23, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. Sarah23

    Sarah23 TPF Noob!

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    We had a pretty cool lightening storm come thought last week...and I was clueless on how to take any pictures of it. Is it really difficult?

    My camera wouldnt even take a picture...it kept trying to focus, and couldn't.

    I have no idea what kind of settings I would need tho....other then a longer exposure obviously. I did have it on my tripod of course...but it seriously wouldnt even shoot.
    :?:
     
  2. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    Never tried it but I would manually focus to infinity, use a cable release, fast multi shot, and quick reaction - once the first flash goes hope others quickly follow. As for exposure - I wouldn't have thought you'd need much so a small aperture (also helps the focus), and... hmm, 25th sec??? It's all guess work though.

    Someone will be along with the correct answer shortly...
     
  3. Warhawk

    Warhawk TPF Noob!

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    What i do is:

    Manual focus set to infinity if your shooting into a open field or aiming to the sky, if there are buildings nearby that you want to have in focus, autofocus on them.

    Keep the hutter open for 30sec on the tripod and hope the lightning hits somewhere your aiming :)

    You might notice that lighting hits a certain area more than other areas, just point your camera in that area (yes, lighting does ifnact hit the same place more than once)
     
  4. Tiberius47

    Tiberius47 TPF Noob!

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    Warhawk is coprrect. You need a tripod and exposures of several seconds at least. generally at least 10 seconds, but the longer you have the shutter open the more chance you have of getting a shot with lightning in. And the plus side of this is that if there is a sudden burst of lightning, with several strikes in the same area, you'll get a wonderful shot!
     
  5. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    Probably best to ignore what I said then.
     
  6. Sarah23

    Sarah23 TPF Noob!

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    you know...i must have had it on autofocus and that is why it wasnt letting me even TRY to take a pic. I had just got the camera a few days before and was still learning. I hadnt even thought of that. :p

    hmm....ok...i will try that next time...thanks!
     
  7. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    I did it a long time ago with an old SLR of manufacture I don't even remember. This was back in film days, and 30 seconds - even in the dark - would make Sensia and Provia do green things, which was not terrible, but it was...funky.

    The trick was (all these require a remote release and a REALLY STURDY tripod):

    - At night, in darkness: stop the camera to F8 or higher, focus infinity, set shutter to bulb, and open the shutter until a.) your thumb gets tired or b.) lightning strikes. The lightning acts as a flash

    - At night, not completely dark or lit buildings in the frame: stop the camera to (um, need to experiment, but f22 might be too dim except for the brightest stokes; then again, it might cause light pollution from buildings or overexposure), focus infinity, set shutter to bulb, and open the shutter until a.) your thumb gets tired or b.) lightning strikes.

    - Daytime: stop the camera to F22, and if you can't get a 30 second exposure screw on nuetral density filters until you do, focus infinity, set shutter to bulb, and open the shutter until a.) your thumb gets tired or b.) lightning strikes.

    My results - all on chrome, I'll go try to find one and scan it - were not too great: my tripod was flimsy (hence the tripod comment above), and I got too much shake: use mirror lock, if you have the feature. Be...vewy...vewy...still.

    Oh, and if lightning stikes very close to you...um. Well. Move!

    Good luck!
     
  8. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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  9. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    That's a great thread and I'm impressed by your shots. The thing that struck me the most ("struck me". Get it?) was how dangerous it can be. Going outside in a lightening storm with your equipment takes a bit of bravado. And of course - as you said - you'll want to be AHEAD of the storm and not in it! Not least because you don;t want to get a) killed or b) wet. I wouldn't dare to use an umbrella for instance...
     
  10. TheOtherBob

    TheOtherBob TPF Noob!

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    I've actually done this the way Fiendish Astronaut suggested -- without using a long exposure. It was a pretty good storm with lots of lightning. The camera was set on manual focus and a fast shutter speed and I was shooting in continuous mode. The results are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7734937@N07/sets/72157601204420451/

    So it can be done that way -- but Schuylercat and Tiberius's suggestion is a far better idea. Doing it my bass-ackward way took 600 shots to get one good one (this is the one I think is good: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7734937@N07/1002968577/in/set-72157601204420451/). And even that one was lucky - the lightning kept coming on the exact opposite side, but by the time you moved it was too late. If it hadn't been such an incredible lightning storm, I never would have gotten anything.

    The tripod / long exposure suggestion is a much better idea.
     

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