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:
- ISO 100
- Shutter speed: 4.0 seconds