How to Safely Photograph Lightning or a monsoon with your DSLR Camera
Scout out an area before your shoot
that has an unobstructed view of the NW, (most storms come from NW). Watch the weather radar reports, &
whenever an storm is heading in your direction, get to your spot & get setup BEFORE it arrives.
A sturdy tripod is a Must (Due to High Winds), Lens choice will depend upon how cropped you want the lightning bolt
to be. A telephoto will record a large bolt, but sky coverage will be more limited than with a or wide-angle (So you may Miss a lot of the action!)
Set your lens to Manual Focus and Infinity to avoid Auto focus issues and blurry photos!
Keep your camera at ISO
100 & f5.6 (this will produce sharp images.) If in a Very bright area then you can go up to F16. Set your Shutter to “Bulb”, use a shutter release & lock the shutter
open. (Usually 30 Seconds in a dark place is a good & wont produce too much noise or hot spots)
If in a Dark area, the shutter can stay open & the only
exposure will be from lightning. Once a bolt will flashes, close the shutter. (Repeat)
If Strikes are happening rapidly leave the shutter open for
multiple strikes in the same frame!
Start to Count seconds between lightning strikes. To Know Exposure length.
Example: If lightning strikes every 25 seconds use a 30 second exposure.
After counting for 2 bolts press the shutter 5-10 seconds after
the last bolt to give your 30 seconds a better chance of catching the bolt.
This requires Luck, timing & Patience, every 10th frame you MAY catch an Bolt.
- Shoot with a sturdy tripod & remote
- Find a location with interesting foreground
- Use a wide angle lens to capture more of the storm
- Determine the movement of the storm so you know where to point
- Always shoot at ISO 100 for the least amount of noise. Use F5.6 – F8
- Shoot in Manual Mode so you can control the shutter & aperture
- Pre-focus your camera before the shoot (Infinity) using Manual focus. Auto focus will NOT work!
- Use Auto White Balance
- Take a few practice shots till your photo looks good w/o the
- If you are shooting a very black scene, use
“Bulb” mode (Longer than 30 sec. may produce noise)
- Keep shooting – you can always erase the Blank photos later!
- Count seconds between lightning strikes. To Know Exposure length.
- Sturdy Tripod
- Cable/Shutter Release
- Cardboard Cover to cover your lens in bright locations
- Extra Charged Batteries
- Extra CF Cards
- Camera Cover
- Safe Place to take cover
- NOTE: If you have 2
cameras, you can double your chances.
SAFETY FIRST – BE SAFE ALWAYS!