Some tips on taking pictures of a storm?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by AllenM, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. AllenM

    AllenM TPF Noob!

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    Heya, first post for me. :D

    I live in northern Illinois, just a couple of minutes ago I was trying to take some shots for the severe storm passing over us. I couldnt really snap a good one off for the life of me. I'm very new to photography, this is my first step into it and I just got my Lumix DMC-FZ30 earlier in the week.

    I still haven't really learned how to utilize the other settings like manual exposure, program ae, shutter priority, aperture priority etc. I was also working on the fly to because it was comming quick and leaving quick. At first I attempted to record it with movie mode but I couldnt see anything, it was pretty much comming through white. I thought maybe white balance had something to do with it and I went through all the options and it didnt change much.

    Anyway, that failed and I was rushing to take some shots so I used auto. I wasted the good part of the storm trying to get the video to work, I'm kinda upset cause my shots only got the weaker side.

    Anywho, I want to learn how to match the sky with the ground for next time. I was trying to take shots where the top half was the sky, and the bottom half was the ground. Typically when I pointed the camera at the sky, the picture adjusted, and when I pointed it at the ground, it adjusted. Pointing the camera closer to the ground made the picture seem alot lighter outside then it really was. Taking a picture of the sky made it seem alittle more like how it was, perhaps a bit darker, but then I couldnt get any rain or the splashes or the wind in the shot. Taking a picture straight forward adopts the ground adjustment and then you can't even see the clouds in the sky, it just looks lightly grayed over (which it definetly was not). Can someone toss me a quick how-to on manually adjusting the picture so I can get both of what I want into the shot (so the picture looks how my eyes see it).

    Here are two shots to compare the difference im getting.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    The actual color outside was more towards the sky pic. As you can see, none of the stuff in the sky appeared in the ground photo. However they weren't pics taking right after each other. You can see in the lighter pic that the rain is heavier, ere the foggy background. But the color of the world was pretty much the same during both shots.

    Really whacky storm by the way, I missed the good stuff though. There were fire trucks and police cars and community suvs doing laps. I was hoping and not hoping at the sametime that one of them suspicious clouds would spit a tornado out.

    No lightning though, just flashes. Might be some lightning during the night, lookin forward to that. :D

    Oh and nice being on the forum!

    P.S. and boy do I have alot more questions.
     
  2. Tolyk

    Tolyk TPF Noob!

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    First off, welcome to the photo forum :)

    I'm an amateur myself, recently got my first SLR camera, but I think I can answer a couple of your questions.

    First off, take a reading of the sky and ground and then average them out. Then switch to manual mode and put in the averaged numbers and try that out.

    I'm not sure about the movie part, I never did use the movie feature on my digital very much.

    In case you get lightning for the next storm, it's pretty much the same as shooting fireworks. Set your camera to 200 ISO, shutter speed to "Bulb" (if you have it, otherwise, your slowest shutter speed should work if you're lucky :) ) and just hold down the shutter button and hope a nice bolt of lightning goes where you're aiming :p

    Well, I answered one question, kinda.. I'm sure you'll get more specific answers soon.
     
  3. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    You will find that storms are much harder to take pictures of if it isn't dark out. Really what you need to think about is what are you trying to emphasize? Flooding roadways? Meter off the ground so that your streets are exposed properly. Looking to show of scary looking clouds? Meter off the sky.

    I think your first picture turned out much better because it has a dark feeling like a storm, whereas the second picture just looks like a shower. EDIT: for your second picture, if you had metered it in auto mode (button down half way) and then looked at your shutter speed and aperture, you could then switch to manual mode and increased the shutter speed. For example your first picture is taken at 1/50 sec and f/3.2 whereas the second picture is a 1/30 sec exposure at f/2.8. So not only does the second shot allow the shutter to stay open longer, the f/ is smaller meaning you're letting more light onto the sensor. combine these together and you have a brighter picture. The second picture would have turned out good if it were underexposed, that is, quicker shutter speeds or a tighter aperture so not as much light reached the sensor.

    Now if you are taking pictures of lightning, this is where the fun begins. First find a place you want to use as background that lightning is near so it will turn up in the shot. Next focus to infinity (manual focus) After that use manual mode to select a somewhat small aperture (f/8+). You may want/have to go higher depending on how dark it is. The lighter it is outside the smaller (higher number f/) you'll need, or an ND filter. After you've got that select an appropriate exposure length (or if you use Ap your camera will take care of that). The longer the exposure the better chance you have of catching lightning in it. Then you pretty much press the button and pray and repeat.

    [​IMG]

    This is a 10 second exposure at f/9.5 ISO=200. Notice the car lights at the bottom of the picture. That is a 25mph road just to give you a feeling for how long the exposure was. Good luck, storms are so much fun.
     
  4. AllenM

    AllenM TPF Noob!

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    thanks kyle, we should have another one comming up in the next couple of days. I'll try to apply some of that and see what I cant do.
     
  5. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    I could literally go on and on on settings and such, but the one thing I have learned is that if you have the camera set on the lowest ISO rating poss. for the camera. The images of rain come out beautifully.
    Until you get use to the manual settings, just shoot in auto mode.
    Let the camera meter for the dark end, and the rest should come out.
    One other aspect is to watch for some kind of contrast in the image. This is usually done with the storm still a way away and if you have a break in the clouds.

    Here is what I mean by contrast.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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