6 Tips on Photographing Lightning During the Day

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Deidra Wilson Photographer Las Vegas DPS

Perhaps you’ve begun to master photographing lightning at night, but you’ve noticed that there are tons of great storms during the day that produce some pretty great lightning strikes, too. How do you transfer your knowledge over and capture some of those images to add to your collection?

1. Find a Safe Vantage Point

This one should go without saying, but if you’re going to be strapping your gear onto a metal tripod and standing outside in stormy weather for an extended period of time, you should be safe while doing so. You can try being further away from the storm, which will actually give you a better view of any strikes, or you can shoot from a sheltered area. You can even photograph from inside your car if needed.

2. Use a Tripod

When shooting lightning, you’ll be shooting long exposures and shooting handheld simply isn’t an option that will produce a quality image.

3. Close Down your Aperture and Drop your ISO

Both of these techniques will allow you to shoot at longer shutter speeds during the day without blowing out your image. You don’t want to close down to the smallest aperture as you may lose some of your image quality. Say your lens goes from f/2.8 – f/22 – try shooting around f/11 or f/14. Depending on your camera, you can probably safely drop your ISO without degrading image quality.

4. Use a Neutral Density Filter if Needed

If your aperture and ISO combination still isn’t allowing you to shoot long enough for each frame, you can add a neutral density filter to the front of your lens, effectively removing stops from the exposure, depending on what level filter you’re using.

5. Shoot Long Exposures

I usually like to shoot for at least ten seconds when trying to capture lightning strikes. You’ll need to check a sample image to make sure the backgrounds aren’t blown out or underexposed based on your settings.

6. Be Patient

Capturing lightning strikes can be a challenge, but can be incredibly rewarding. Once you dial your settings in, you can also try using a remote and setting the camera to shoot continuously. Then you can sit back and see what you capture over the course of the storm.

For the image above, I used the bed of my pickup truck as a tripod, and the image metadata is as follows:

  • f/18.0
  • ISO 100
  • Shutter speed: 4.0 seconds

From the editor: Here’s another amazing example from Justin Battles from over on 500px.

Deidra Wilson is a Las Vegas Boudoir Photographer who has a wicked obsession for capturing elusive weather through her lens. You can follow her on Twitter at @deidraphoto

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  • I don’t shoot lighting during the day but I do like to look out the window and stare at it.

    Great tips if I ever get the courage.

    http://portraitinspiration.com/inspiration-for-the-day-33/

  • 6 Tips on Photographing Lightning During the Day is a fantastic blog post. I loved reading this article. If you want, please visit my personal web-site.

  • Cathy M

    Don’t forget about lightning triggers if you have a camera that will accept one. You are right when you say that it is very rewarding when you capture lightning.

  • naz

    a couple more tips, get a $30 wireless remote- the kind that doesn’t need direct line of site so that you can set camera wherever, and get to a safe spot to take the photos from- these remotes also have a lock that holds the shiutter open until you disengage it so that you don’t have to hold down on the shutter trigger–

    If you don’t have tripod, simply set camera on steady surface and use the wireless remote-

    Also use mirror lockup

  • Baul

    Use a wide angle lens to cover more area…lightning never strikes the same place twice !

  • Cathy M

    Don’t forget about lightning triggers for suitable cameras.

  • http://marius-fotografie.blogspot.ro/2012/06/peisaje.html
    This is one of my lighting during the night.I will tray shooting during the day( with some ND filters).
    Nice photo.

  • Kasandra
  • Helen Raynor

    I am in LOVE with this shot! Awesome, living in FL we get some amazing lightning, I usually use a lightning trigger too, but so far nothing as awesome as this! Great tips to use!

  • Jack Miller

    Thank you for using my buddy’s photo with out asking permission. He will be in contact with you. This photo was taken by Justin Battles.

    Stealing peoples photos and claiming them as your own is a no no and considering the large following we have in the photography community. It will be known thousands of people that you are stealing photos from other photographers.

  • Jack Miller

    That is not her photo. My friend Justin Battles took this picture in Florida.

  • Ashley

    It states Justin battles on the photo?? Read more comment less id say

  • Ashley

    For the image above, I used the bed of my pickup truck as a tripod, and the image metadata is as follows:

    I will take my own advice!

  • Geoff Thomas

    I LOVE how she gives her tech specs and talks about using her pickup as a tripod!

    Move your mouse pointer over the image at the top of the post and it CLEARLY shows “Golden Hour On Fire by **JUSTIN BATTLES** on 500px.

    I guess some people really ARE that stupid

    ps: I knew it was Justin’s image before I even opened the link!

  • From the editor: apologies, today we were updating this post and added Justins’ amazing image (using 500px embed tool) but in doing so placed the image in the wrong part of the image and replaced the original author’s image that she referred to as having taken from the back of her pickup.

    My apologies for this. Justin’s image is now added at the bottom of the post and Diedre’s back at the top.

  • Justin Battles

    Yes that is my copyrighted and protected photo Ashley and it was used without my permission. I should know. I took it! It wasn’t shot by Deidra Wilson or from the back of a pick up truck. I took that photo 9-11-14 at Myakka State Park in Florida. Yes it does say ‘Golden Hour On Fire by Justin Battles’ across the bottom on a mobile device or if you hold a mouse over it on a desktop.

  • Justin – as I mention in my previous comment I apologise for the way the image was inserted into the post. Our intention was to use it as an extra illustrative image rather than make it look like the author’s photo.

    With regards to using the image without permission. We’ve had numerous communications with 500px on using images with their embed tool. They actually approached us a year or more back and asked us to use any image on the site with their embed too.

    When we queried this with them and particularly asked about copyright they told us that it was within their TOS as long as we use the embed tool which gives credit back to the photographer.

    This was a little surprising to us but they assured us that 500px photographers agree to it in their TOS.

    If you’d prefer we remove the image we’re more than happy to. Our goal is to teach and inspire new photographers and celebrate great photography but we wouldn’t want to do it at the expense of photographers.

  • mtphill

    What strength ND was used with the last sample image provided?

Some Older Comments

  • Kasandra April 9, 2013 12:40 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83563964@N03/8630554220/
    My first lightning photo. ^

  • marius2die4 November 9, 2012 07:29 pm

    http://marius-fotografie.blogspot.ro/2012/06/peisaje.html
    This is one of my lighting during the night.I will tray shooting during the day( with some ND filters).
    Nice photo.

  • Cathy M November 9, 2012 07:03 am

    Don't forget about lightning triggers for suitable cameras.

  • Baul November 9, 2012 03:48 am

    Use a wide angle lens to cover more area...lightning never strikes the same place twice !

  • naz November 9, 2012 03:46 am

    a couple more tips, get a $30 wireless remote- the kind that doesn't need direct line of site so that you can set camera wherever, and get to a safe spot to take the photos from- these remotes also have a lock that holds the shiutter open until you disengage it so that you don't have to hold down on the shutter trigger--

    If you don't have tripod, simply set camera on steady surface and use the wireless remote-

    Also use mirror lockup

  • Cathy M November 9, 2012 03:43 am

    Don't forget about lightning triggers if you have a camera that will accept one. You are right when you say that it is very rewarding when you capture lightning.

  • Alysha Lavelett November 3, 2012 08:05 pm

    6 Tips on Photographing Lightning During the Day is a fantastic blog post. I loved reading this article. If you want, please visit my personal web-site.

  • Mridula October 27, 2012 07:46 pm

    It is a beautiful picture.

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • Jai Catalano October 27, 2012 05:07 am

    I don't shoot lighting during the day but I do like to look out the window and stare at it.

    Great tips if I ever get the courage.

    http://portraitinspiration.com/inspiration-for-the-day-33/

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