Beefmoney
Topic Author
Posts: 1071
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 2:16 am

Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:55 am

Hey all,

I've been photographing aircraft for about 4 years now, and I've uploaded about 45 photos onto A.net here. I'm also pretty prolific in High School sports photography since I am my schools head photographer for the yearbook, but thats about as diverse as my photography experience gets.

But last night, a storm rolled through Phoenix. I stood outside and watched a good lightning show for about 30 minutes before I decided to whip out my Canon D60 and see if I could be quick enough to catch some lightning. I spent about 2 hours outside trying to pick a section of sky and wait...wait...wait...and try to hit that shutter as fast as possible to grab that split second of lightning. After 2 hours I ended up taking about 90-100 photos, and I ended up with a grand total of 2 photos with lightning actually on them. Since its digital, I just cleaned off the card and no harm done.

But then the storm was pretty much dying down, and the sun was going down past the horizon making a nice little streak of sunset at the horizon behind the cloud deck when I decided to press my luck one last time. I sat down, framed the sky above the sunset, focused it, and waited, and waited, and waited. But then it started to look like there hadnt been any lightning for about 2-3 minutes. I figured it was too late, the storm had dissipated, and decided I would head back inside. But just as I was thinking that through, a huge flash of lightning went off right smack dab in the center of the frame above the sunset. I rattled off about 3 shots realy quick, and realized that was a perfect bolt of lightning in exactly the perfect spot. I just hoped I hadn't screwed it up and pulled the trigger too late, like I had been doing all evening. Then I checked the previews on the back of the body, and this is what I had captured:

http://img10.exs.cx/img10/2238/Ltning.jpg

I was extremely happy about this. It was dead center where I was hoping it would show up, and I actually hit the shutter at the right time. By far the best photo I have taken in a long time.

But now I've gotten to thinking that I really quite enjoy this lightning photography. I've always liked storms, and I've always liked photography, so why not mix the two?

So now Im here to ask if theres anyone else on these forums that is a little more veteran than I on the task of shooting lightning. I'd really like to know your opinions on my photo, and what you think I should do next time in the effort to make it even better. Should I think about getting any special equipment, or is there any technique I should use that would make this a bit easier?

Any advice from any of you experienced lightning/weather/storm photographers would help me out in this new genre of photography I seem to have discovered for myself.

Thanks a ton.
 
maiznblu_757
Posts: 4952
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2002 12:05 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:02 am

Awesome photo!

I was extremely happy about this. It was dead center where I was hoping it would show up, and I actually hit the shutter at the right time..

Its much easier to leave your shutter open for 10-15 seconds. I have a few lightning shots from storms in Michigan. We get real weather in Michigan. Wish I could say that about the place I am living now.  Sleepy

[Edited 2004-08-12 22:03:12]
 
kc7mmi
Posts: 834
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2003 3:15 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:03 am

Good job, that's a nice photo...and I saw that sunset last night as I was getting home from Teryaki Kitchen (yum). I've always wanted to photograph lightning too...and now is a good time for it since we have the monsoon season.

[Edited 2004-08-12 22:07:58]
 
spencer
Posts: 1518
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:30 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:14 am

A really great capture!!! I'd be very happy with that one! Shame it isn't striking a plane though, would've made top of the year!!!
Spencer.
EOS1D4, 7D, 30D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, 70-200/2.8 L IS2 USM, 17-40 f4 L USM, 24-105 f4 L IS USM, 85 f1.8 USM
 
yultopei
Posts: 217
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 6:19 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:29 am

Amazing picture... Great job.
New wallpaper of my computer.
Nice.

Regards
YULtoPEI
PEI in Colombia!!!. [Canon T2i]
 
IL76
Posts: 2238
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:43 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:34 am

Michael, that's an amazing shot!!
It's a great subject for photography. I enjoy it myself aswell.
It's totally a luck thing, you can't really plan a lightning bolt!  Smile I always use bulb on f8, use a wide angle and point to the place where you see most bolts of lightning. Press the shutter and wait until you see a bolt. If you don't get a bolt after 8-10 seconds, let go and try again. If you DO get a bolt, let go of the shutter button. The bolt will probably have illuminated the surroundings.

Cheers,
Eduard
 
United4everDEN
Posts: 737
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 12:36 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 6:48 am

I have some good experience with lightning:





Use a polarizing filter to lengthen exposure times. I generally watch the lightning and time between bolts. They stay the same usually so you know just about when to click the shutter button. My exposures are generally 3 seconds, no more than 5.

[Edited 2004-08-12 23:53:02]
 
707CMF
Posts: 4698
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2002 5:39 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 7:06 am

As Maiznblu_757 said, it is indeed much easier to use long exposures. The following picture was taken two years ago with my Olympus C700, using 16 seconds exposure.



cheers,

707
 
Dehowie
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:41 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:58 am

A great reference page but this guy does take his lightning seriously.
A little too seriously if you look at some of his shots.
He has excellent tutorial stuff.
Darren
http://lightningboy.com/
2EOS1DX,EF14.2.8LII,17TS,85/1.2,16-35L,24-70LII,24L,70-200F2.8LII,100-400,300/400/500/800L
 
maiznblu_757
Posts: 4952
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2002 12:05 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:17 pm

If you are going to do this, be safe and use common sense. I find myself staying out probably longer than I should sometimes, you just dont think about the power these storms posess as its approaching.

These guys learned the hard way




[Edited 2004-08-13 05:19:02]
 
Beefmoney
Topic Author
Posts: 1071
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 2:16 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:25 pm

Hey, thanks a lot guys for the comments, and I'll be sure to check out those websites. Those are some great shots you guys have as well. Just what I was looking for. And yes, safety is always job #1 whenever I'm outside in a storm. Anyone that knows me can tell you that I'm usually the first one to surrender to caution when the danger shows itself.
 
kc7mmi
Posts: 834
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2003 3:15 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 2:35 pm

I'm not sure if those kids got hit, but that's way longer than I'd stick around. Just keep in mind, a storm cell does not need to be over your head for you to get hit...be careful!
 
maiznblu_757
Posts: 4952
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2002 12:05 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 2:45 pm

Ben, they did get hit. I get a yearly weather calendar and it has been a story in at least two of them. I dont know if they dies. The story has to be on the net. It seems to me the lightning bounced and struck a family member and either severely injured or killed him/her.
 
Beefmoney
Topic Author
Posts: 1071
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 2:16 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:25 pm

This is all the info I could find on that photo. Scroll down the page a little bit to see it.

http://home.fuse.net/engineering/lightningprinterruleshtm.htm
 
maiznblu_757
Posts: 4952
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2002 12:05 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:48 pm

I must have been thinking of another strike.


It must suck to know that you possibly caused this other person to get hit. I would hate to live with that, no matter how unpredictable it was.

[Edited 2004-08-13 08:49:27]
 
kc7mmi
Posts: 834
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2003 3:15 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:07 pm

Oh, it was predictable...
 
maiznblu_757
Posts: 4952
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2002 12:05 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:13 pm

OK OK, It was.. Its not murder though..lol.
 
tappan
Posts: 1478
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 1999 9:30 pm

RE: Lightning Photography

Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:40 pm

Very nice photo. I LOVE lightning. Without a camera in my hand, I can't seem to function during a lightning storm.......
Here is shot from a 2002 thunderstorm over Boston's new Zakim Bridge
http://www.markgarfinkel.com/singles2.htm

Mark Garfinkel
 
SlamClick
Posts: 9576
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:22 am

Good shot. As the folks above have pointed out, though, much easier with an exposure of a few seconds. I nearly got struck by lightning twice before I figured that one out. I stood in the middle of the Royal Gorge suspension bridge in Colorada trying to get the timing right when the hair stood up on my arms and head. Did the same thing at Bryce Canyon Utah just a couple years ago. Almost toasted my video camera.

There is real drama in the shots where it lights up the bottom of the clouds.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
mygind66
Posts: 1033
Joined: Sun May 02, 2004 7:13 am

RE: Lightning Photography

Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:37 am

Antoine..

Very beautiful pic!

Enrique

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