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Lightning Photography

One of the topics I’m regularly asked about is Lightning Photography.

Photographing lightning is an exciting yet often frustrating task. The results can be spectacular but they are also partly based upon luck and more often than not the shots are not what you’d expect.

Note: check out our How to Photograph Lightning tutorial.

As part of our ‘How I Took It’ assignment in our Flickr Group cdw9 submitted the following lightning photograph and told us how it was taken.


Where Was it Taken?

Knox County, Illinois

What settings did you use?

I had my camera on manual mode so I could use the bulb setting. Final specs were: 29 seconds, f/5.6, ISO 200, 18mm.

Basically I used a remote to open the shutter, waited for a strike, and closed the shutter.

What gear did you use?

Why did you compose the shot as you did?

Of course, I did not choose where the lightning struck. I had my lens at 18mm- as wide as I could get to capture any lightning in the area, and this shot was only cropped to get the horizon straight. The ground is not as important as the sky in these types of shots, but I still had to get a little bit in there so you could see where the lightning struck.

What post production work have you done on the shot (if any)?

This shot actually came out very light, I had to play with the brightness and contrast a lot.

What were you hoping to achieve with the shot?

A nice shot of lightning

What did you do well?

Captured the lightning and the mood

How could you have improved it?

If I was doing this now, I would not have my aperture at 5.6. At the point of taking this photo, I did not know how to change the aperture in manual mode, and to be honest it wasn’t something I was thinking about at the time. There are parts of the photo, like around the bolt, that are a bit blown out because of all the light, and I think having a smaller aperture would have helped that.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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