Photographing Lightning A Guide for Beginners

How to photograph Lightning is a common question we get. Lightning is one of the most amazing phenomena of nature. It is unpredictable, fulfilling and dazzling, all at the same time. It is one of the most unpredictable natural force, that can strike anytime and anywhere.

Photographing lightning is a not a very safe hobby. A lightning storm is unpredictable and the high force can strike down when you are most unprepared. However, taking photographs of lightning is not only one of the most amazing, but also a very rewarding type of photography you can do.

The photographs of lightning are some of the most powerful photos depicting the nature at its best. But, how do you capture this majestic natural phenomenon?

While the timings are not in your hand, here are some tips that will keep you ready to capture the photos of lightning as and when it strikes. 

How to photograph lightning

Photograph lightning

Safety Comes First

Safety should be your top priority when you are photographing lightning. Make sure you are in a safe place where there is no chance of a direct impact. If you are photographing the phenomenon near trees, water or other structures, make sure there is a distance of at least 50 feet between you and these objects. Try not to photograph lightning in open areas as you are more in danger in these.

Use a Tripod or Anything Steady

While most of the people will use a tripod, in reality, you can use any steady surface that keeps your camera balanced and safe from being affected by shakes. 

Extended Shutter Times

Since it is highly unpredictable where the lightning will appear in the sky and in what pattern, it becomes difficult to use the capture button at the right time. While there are some remote-controlled systems that can be used to capture the image as the lightning strikes, they are very expensive. Set the camera for the slow shutter speed and low noise and set it on a 30-second timer. This will keep the shutter open to click the photograph.

how to photograph lightning

Choose the Right Lens

While any lens will work when you are capturing photos of lightning, working with a wide angle lens is the best option. This will allow you to fit in more of the scene while using a zoom lens will also give you the flexibility of targeting a specific area or changing the focal length easily.

Find the Storm

All the things mentioned above are useless if you are not able to find a storm in the first place. Finding a storm where there is a high likelihood of striking of light is a difficult thing to do. The best way to find a storm is to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts. While they are not accurate 100% of the times, the chances of finding a storm in the area mentioned in the forecast are much higher than others. Don’t have lightning storms in the area you live in, plan a vacation or tour to an area where they are abundant and you will be able to get some great shots.

a guide to photographing lighting

Composing the Shot

It is best to cover more sky in the shot than the ground or other subjects. It is not going to look really great in the viewfinder when there is no lightning out there, but once there is, you will see that the lightning covers up most of the picture and that is what you want.

Click as many pictures as you can when there is lightning and you can sort out the best from them later on.

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