View Full Version : My First Lightning Image

Doug Brown
08-27-2010, 12:10 PM
This photo was taken from my backyard the other evening. I had never taken a decent shot of a bolt of lightning prior to this. I particularly like the fact that it's a horizontal bolt. I cropped a bit off the top of the frame to go for more of a pano look. I also boosted the exposure and saturation at the bottom of the frame to highlight the houses. I'd be interested in some suggestions from the experts on how to photograph lightning.


Canon 1D Mark IV, 19mm, f/5, 1/8, ISO 800, -2 EC, tripod

Dave Mills
08-27-2010, 02:59 PM
Hi Doug, I believe there is something called a lightening trigger which is a device used to sense lightening and will release the shutter when it senses a flash. Roman has one and I'm sure can elaborate more.
The lightening bolt is beautifully presented in the image and was caught just at the right time. I see a feint bit of color and outline at the bottom but really need to see this image with a black backround to see how much
impact it has on the overall. The white always throws my eye off when looking at very dark subjects.

Roman Kurywczak
08-27-2010, 03:44 PM
Hey Doug,
Welcome to the exciting but dangerous world of lightning photography! 1st.....good choice of f-stop! ....going to f16 or higher can sometimes make the bolts faint.....not show off the tentacles. I don't recommend the lightning trigger anymore.....why.....it is expensive and you can do much the same with the Vari ND filter from Singh Ray.....for the same price. Here's the thing....at night.....focus is the hardest.....so if you know where your lens focuses at a particular MM range....at infinity....you should be able to manually focus it.....place it on a 30 second exposure....and just leave it open!.....especially at night! I understand why you included the buildings for scale....so it works but it also would w/o them as more of a pano w/ the tree. Here is something to keep in mind.....distance of the storm relative to you is key. You don't want the storm on top of you.....you nees to clearly see the bolts w/ the naked eye.....then you should be able to capture decent bolts! The longer the exposure you can get the more likely you will capture it.....so if it daytime.....put the polariser on to slow the SS even more. The vari ND will aloow you to get a decent length on the exposure....even in the day! Best way to think of lightning.....big/bright flash.......don't need much ambient to capture it.....so the slower the SS.....the more likely you will be able to capture it! Hope this makes sense but feel free to ask if I left anything out or it doesn't make sense. BTW.....if you are going to look at the vari ND.....i recommend the thin mount.

Robert Amoruso
08-28-2010, 08:03 AM
Roman gave you the expert lowdown on lightening photography.

I like the FG building just wish I could see more detail. I downloaded the image and used Shadow/Highlight on them. Look to be adobe buildings. For this image you could try lightening them up. In the future, just include longer ambient light exposure. Nice work Doug - good to see you here in Landscape.

Doug Brown
08-29-2010, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the help guys!

Morkel Erasmus
09-02-2010, 04:47 AM
nicely done for a first time Doug and thanks Roman for the info - still need to try this this coming summer (luckily I live in an area famous for its storms)

I like the fact that the bolt is horizontal, and might consider an abstract without any of the FG...