Power!!! How to shoot lightning bolts

posted on 7th of july, 2009

Hi All,
In the last winter I finally succeeded in photographing a lightning bolts, and not one, about ten of them.

To shoot a lightning we'll need to use long exposure of course, and not as someone from my work has asked me (how was you able to click on the shutter this fast? :-) )

an exposure of 20-30 seconds is recommended.

The key point is to wait for the thunder and try to examine the wait period between the thunder and the next lightning.

Then using the 20-30 seconds exposure catch the bolt.

Few examples of that kind:

You know the phrase "lightning does not hit the same place twice", well I guess it does not but at least very close.
While the to images above are in a wide angle shot, I was able to zoom in to a specific place and guess what, the lightning hit the same place twice:

Last recommendation:
don't give up, catching a good frames of 10 lightnings took me about 50 shoots. :-)

Waiting for the next winter.

Comments (14)

Comment by Modi1980 on August 04, 2009

Hi Mukesh,
Picturing birds in flight is a very hard technical shot.
When picturing birds it's best to leave the automate modes such as "sport" and to use the shutter speed manual definition.
Try to set the shutter to the shortest time possible within the lighting conditions or even use flash if the object is close enough.

For example, one of my most favorites pictures:

Comment by Mukeshchaturvedi on August 04, 2009

Thundering great pics.

I have had rather unhappy experience trying to take pics of flying birds. Mine is a digital camera-Sony H-7. Even in the sports mode, the pics are a blur.

Any suggestions?


Comment by Irisangel on July 27, 2009

Since I live in Florida,"The lightning capital of the world" I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for the tip.

Comment by Atomknish on July 26, 2009

i read your post tonight during a storm and gave it a go....think i need some more trys! great shots.

Comment by Defun on July 09, 2009

nice bolts^^

Comment by Modi1980 on July 09, 2009

Thanks all for the warm comments.
Regarding the technique. I forgot to mention but of course a tripod was in use.

During this specific thunder storm, I examined the wait period and saw that the avg. time between a thunder and the next consecutive lightning (for the same appearance location more or less) was something like 50 seconds.
Since my camera only allows up to 30 seconds of opened shutter I needed to adjust the 30 seconds such as the lightning will appear in my frame within these 30 seconds.
meaning waiting for about 35-40 seconds after the thunder made me catch some of the lightning appearances.

I know that this technique comes in contradiction to the known natures law: "the thunder comes after the lightning" but it's a good way to synchronize the shooting time. :-)

Comment by Achilles on July 09, 2009

This seems to be a good summer for shooting bolts. Can you explain more on your technique? What connection did you see between the light and the sound?
The key point is to wait for the thunder and try to examine the wait period between the thunder and the next lightning.

Comment by Alexhor on July 08, 2009

Great info. Depending on camera the exposure may vary. My Oly seems to be to sensitive on long exposures in dark and I get many "dead" pixels.
Your bolts are nice.

Comment by Xiepeng on July 08, 2009

Thank you for sharing, very good, learning.

Comment by Wildmac on July 07, 2009

These are great! Thanks for sharing :0)

Comment by Aginger on July 07, 2009

Wonderful shots!
And...thank you for the advice. My thunder captured with around 1/60...I had no tripod at that moment...and not so beautiful like yours :) (and deleted almost 150 shots for one)

Comment by EmeraldUmbrellaStudio on July 07, 2009

good to know

Comment by Davidwattsjr on July 07, 2009

nice work!

Comment by Hlehnerer on July 07, 2009

Thank you for the tips! Nice work!

Comments (14)

This article has been read 1792 times. 7 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Modi1980.

About me

I'm 30 years old, 5 years in photography, already won first place in a photography contest that took place in in Israel. I love photography, mostly taking pictures of my Sons 4 and 1 years old. Currently I'm also mastering usage of photoshop for photographer.

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