Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life should taste as good as lightning

We had a fairly violent electrical storm roll through the area last night and for the first time this season I had the opportunity to attempt a few lightning shots.

Once the rain had let up enough I headed out to the scenic lookout near where I live and shot the storm as it moved east over Lake Superior.

The way I shoot lightning is usually with a long exposure. Not too crazy, a few seconds, anywhere up to 25 or 30 will usually do. These shots were all about 15 second exposures, tripod mounted and triggered manually (I hastily forgot my IR remote as I ran out the door.)

Kept my ISO at 200, Auto WB, Spot metered at about f/8 to f/10 and not wide open as I wanted to focus more on any potential lightning strikes rather than city lights throwing the exposure out of whack too much. I also kept a Hoya ND x 4 filter on my lens to give me a greater DOF (if need be) and more importantly, to give me that extra one or two seconds exposure time which might have made the difference between a shot with a lightning bolt in it and a shot with some boring clouds. Even with the ND I did miss quite a few by looking in the wrong direction at the wrong second.

All in all I was decently happy with my few results from last night. I'm no expert on lightning photography and I don't have a ton of fancy gear. All I know is that with a few basic pieces of equipment and some basic know how coupled with patience and a bit of luck, anyone can capture a real split second in time and come home with good lightning shots.
It's not that hard.

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