Photography Tip 19 - Lightning Photography

April 15, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Photographers!

Welcome to this mini photography tip to help you with your camera and to get better photos!

If you want to catch up on all the tips in detail and in one hit then sign up for one of my photography workshops, there's one for everyone, click on the link below then scroll through all the different workshops I have available. From an educational workshop to a photography experience, I am always there to guide you to ensure you get the best photos and improve on your photography journey.

They are suitable for all levels of photography experience and take you to some of the best places in North Queensland. 

https://www.philcoppphotos.com/photography-workshops

 

This photography tip is all about lightning photography.

Everyone loves a good lightning photo and lightning is one of mother natures amazing creations.

Many of you may have seen my recent shot I captured from a recent storm which passed over Townsville. I've added it below.

My post on Facebook reached over 300,000 people and had over 27,000 engagements! Good content is key for social media engagement and a lightning shot usually does the trick for that wow factor. 

See down below for how to capture a shot like this and also some safety considerations.

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The first thing to consider when looking to go "storm chasing" is SAFETY!!

This type of photography can be very dangerous and even life threatening if you find yourself in the wrong position. Lightning can kill. It can also strike a long way from a storm cloud or storm front so you need to be very aware of what you are doing and how you do it. We are lucky in Townsville that we don't get very many "Severe" storms that cause a lot of damage. You don't want to be caught out and about in one of these storms which can be like getting caught in a cyclone or even worse. There is a risk of tornadoes also with severe thunderstorms.

If you can shoot from an elevated position at a distance like I was doing when I captured the shot above then that is best and will give you the best viewpoint to capture photos. Always have a short escape route back to your car. It's better to leave your position early rather than later. Shoot from your car if needed. Quite often the rain will send you packing anyway.

If there is lightning striking around your car and the storm clouds are overhead, DO NOT get out of your car. Even though the storm in the above photo looks close it was still about 5kms away from where I was.

ALWAYS err on the side of safety with storm photography.

CAPTURE

For this shot I had my camera setup on my tripod. Having a super sturdy tripod is important for this type of shot as quite often the storm outflow winds can be very strong and gusty which may move your camera round.

My settings were ISO100, f11 (f8-f11 is usually ok) and for this shot my shutter speed was 30 seconds. The longer your shutter speed the more chance there is of movement in your photo from wind etc.

For the shot above I would have preferred to use my Pluto trigger but it wouldn't connect to my new phone so I had to resort to the long exposure method. To do this when it is brighter you can use an ND filter to increase the shutter speed. I think I used a 3 stop ND filter for this shot.

A lightning trigger is the best method for daytime shots as it detects the bolt and opens your camera shutter in time to capture the strike. You can get away with a lot shorter shutter speed this way to suit the light conditions. 

I always use ISO100 and about f8-f11 for lightning shots no matter how dark it is. This helps control the exposure so you don't get blown out highlights. The strikes are very bright!

 

I hope you enjoyed this photography tip. Feel free to ask any questions by sending me a message on social media or by EMAIL.

Till next time, happy shooting.

Phil

 


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