Lightning is a very dangerous nature creation, but it makes beautiful patterns on the night sky. Therefore photographers incline to capture this natural beauty. As a professional photographer, especially nature photographer must be learned about the lightning photography section. In this article, I listed six tips for make the best lightning photographs with a DSLR camera which is essential for all photography learners.
1. Find a good safety location
Lightning photographs are beautiful. But lightning is a very dangerous thing. First of all, you must think about the safety. Faraday cages are the most protected place from lightning. That is vehicles and covered cages. I strongly advise open areas and wet surface is not recommended as the location. There is a very high risk at tall trees or structures nearby you. Don’t forget safety first.
2. Prepare your equipment properly
If you need to capture a lightning strike with high quality, you must use a tripod and DSLR camera with manual settings mode. Sometimes it can be a rainy weather, therefore you have to provide with better covering equipment and other protective gears for your equipment. In lightning photography, you need to use longer shutter speed. When you touch the camera can be made a bad effect on your photographs. Then you need to use a shutter release cable or a remote. Then you can avoid touching the camera when taking long exposures. I recommended wide angle and zoom lenses for lightning photography. Because you can change the focal length and capture wide area at once without changing the location.
3. Find a good lightning storm spot
Normally lightning strikes can be seen everywhere during the year. Therefore no need to go find a lightings occurring location. First, you need to confirm the safety purpose from the lightning strikes which I mentioned earlier. I suggest the twilight sky or night sky is the best background for your image. Because dark sky helps to capture the lightning clearly. Don’t forget to cover your camera and lens properly from the raindrops.
4. Setting up for capture lightning
This is the most important part of the lightning photography. Your photography skills and the photography knowledge to fulfill this part. There are a few steps listed here for making the best lightning photographs. These steps are very useful for learning photography with configuring the DSLR camera settings to become a better nature photographer.
- Fix your camera on your tripod.
- Put the camera mode to manual.
- Set your lens to infinity because the most of lightning strikes occur in large distance away from your location. But closer lightning strikes will be out of focus. But you can neglect it because the most are occurs far away
- Better use manual focus because digital cameras’ autofocusing accuracy will reduce in the darker background.
- Try to use the minimum level of the ISO value that your DSLR camera can be reached. (either 100 or 200)
Shutter speed and the aperture depends on the environment light level. Definitely, your shutter speed should be more than 4 seconds and put aperture as f/8. Better first you check the image preview and change those values until the image became the correct exposure. If you are at the highly darker area you can use 30 seconds shutter speed and f/16 aperture value.
5. Compose your shot
Your composition target should be to capture the large area of the lightning strike in your photo frame. Then try to focus the large sky range in your viewfinder. Therefore Earlier I mentioned the wide angle lens is more suitable for the lightning photography. As well as you better include some landscape like a tree, building or a mountainside of your photo frame Additionally, if you need to know about the photography composition, you can refer to my “Learn Photography Composition Rules” article.
6. Take many shots in each location
Lightning strikes are unexpected objects. Therefore you try to get more shots from the same location. Because out of those all shots, best quality photographs finding possibility will increase with best exposure levels. Otherwise, you have to try to spend another day make the best lightning photographs.
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