Lightning Photography – Tips for a Beginner

I have now crossed lightning photography off my bucket list! For those of you who want to do the same, here is a beginners guide. (Some may disagree with my tips and ideas, but this was the best method for me)

Rules: Stay safe, be patient, and have fun.

I decided that my first lightning shot needed to be mastered from the comforts of my apartment before adventuring out in a downpour with gear and ruining my photography equipment. This meant I could get the hang of the workflow for when I do adventure out. I also made a DIY rain guard and tested that out on the balcony so I had an idea of the limitations of working in a rain guard when I do invest in one.

To get the correct exposure, What I did was set up my camera near a window/on my balcony on a tripod. For settings, I lowered the ISO to 100 so the camera would be less sensitive to light reducing noise in the sky, I kept the aperture wide to allow light in and used a range of ƒ/2.8-8 to help make up for the low ISO. I had a long shutter exposure to help capture that instant bolt of lightning during the exposure. I also set the focal length to infinity and put my camera to manual focus.

Lightning ©Amy Godin Photography 2013

Lightning ©Amy Godin Photography 2013

Gear used to capture this shot:
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70  ƒ/2.8, Window sill (usually I would use my Manfrotto 190prob with the 804 head), and for my balcony shot attempts I made a DIY rain cover out of a large ziplock bag.
When I do adventure out to take photos of a storm outdoors I will post the review of it. For now, since I do not have the correct gear to keep my equipment safe from the stormy elements, I will stick to taking nature or weather shots outdoors on nice days/nights. Let me know in the comments about your success photographing lightning, and what gear you use to protect your camera from the elements.


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