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About Photography / Professional Member Jonathan Uriah Denney20/Male/United States Groups :iconimagi-notions: Imagi-Notions
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How To Photograph

Series 2. Lightning and Storms

Photographing lightning and storms can be very fun, but also very dangerous! Not only for you, but also for your equipment. With this guide you will learn how to photograph lightning safely and efficiently. 

Equipment that you will need.

  • A camera. Preferably a DSLR, but anything that allows you to control your shutter speed will work.
  • A wide angle lens. Whether it's a zoom or a prime, something between 10mm and 30mm is usually the best.
  • A tripod. You will need a sturdy tripod since you will be doing long exposures. A sturdy tripod prevents camera shake.
  • A neutral density filter if needed. Long exposures will let a lot of light into your sensor, the best way to prevent this is by using ND filters.
  • Proper clothing. Storms usually mean rain. Have a rain jacket or poncho ready.
  • Remote shutter release. You may not need this if your camera has a controlled timer. 
  • A microfiber lens cloth. You may end up with a bit of water on your lens.
  • A Storm Jacket, Rainsleeve, or any other protective cover to keep rain off of your gear.

Sunrise Luminance - 1.6 seconds - F/8.0 - ISO 100 - 20mm                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sunrise Luminance by UriahGallery

Finding a storm.

Finding a storm can be easy. You can wait for one to come to you, or go out and find one yourself. Over 100 lightning strikes hit the Earth per second. Surely you will have no problem finding a storm. Check your television's news and weather broadcasting stations, or search the internet on websites such as for storms. 

Diversion of Balance  - 1/500 second - F/5.6 - ISO 100 - 50mm                                                                                                                                                                   Diversion of Balance by UriahGallery

Setting up your composition. 

When setting up your composition, look for leading lines, foreground elements, and objects to frame your image, just like with any other photograph. This can be anything from fences and telephone lines, to flowers and trees. Trees are great for photographing in the rain. When you have a foreground element the photo can become more interesting, but with lightning photographs, wide open spaces work just as great. Compose your image before the storm arrives and photograph the storm as it is coming or as it is leaving. Never photograph during a lightning storm if you do not have shelter or you will risk getting struck. Make sure that your horizon is level. If you need to you can get a bubble level to set on top of the camera. 
Tranquil Rain - 1/125 second - F/5.6 - ISO 250 - 50mm                                                                                                                                                                                                Tranquil Rain by UriahGallery

Photographing the subject.

It will take trial and error to understand what gets you the results that you want. Use a tripod to keep your camera steady. Make sure that your gear is protected with a rain sleeve or, what I use, a Storm Jacket. Meter your scene correctly. If you are unsure of how to meter a scene, read my Beginner Guide To A Proper Exposure. You generally want a narrow aperture, somewhere between f/8 and f/11. Shutter speeds will vary on the lighting situation that you are in. It's going to take some trial and error. If you study the lightning you can kind of figure out when it's going to strike. Set your shutter speed at about 1 second and burst fire until it happens. Use a neutral density filter on your lens if you cannot achieve longer shutter speeds. For even longer shutter speeds, use the timer on your camera or a remote shutter release to trip the shutter. This will prevent camera shake and blur in your photograph. To capture multiple strikes in a photograph, just decrease the shutter speed even further. Go for something like 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Now that you know how to photograph storms and lightning, get out there, explore, and have a great time! Stay safe!
Are these tips and guides helpful to you? 
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hosagu Featured By Owner 43 minutes ago  Hobbyist Photographer
Thx for the lama :)
TheTrueKeitastic Featured By Owner 2 hours ago  New member
Thanks for the llama badge!
SmartFIO Featured By Owner 2 hours ago  New member Student General Artist
Thanks for the llama :happybounce:  Oh by the way lovely photo shots
shelaghcully Featured By Owner 3 hours ago  Student General Artist
Thanks for the :llama:!
GameyGear Featured By Owner 3 hours ago  Student Artist
Arigato, thank you for the llama
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