How to photograph lightning – Lightning photography 101
Love great lightning photos? Want to make a superb lightning photo yourself? We have put all of our experience in this step-by-step tutorial that will help you get the most out of your lightning photography!
What you will need:
- A camera with the option of making long exposures. Any interchangeable lens camera (DSLR or mirrorless, both work equally well) will have the option, many compact cameras and many phone cameras also have the option.
- A remote trigger for the camera or timer.
- A tripod.
- A thunderstorm. Preferably at night.
The great thing about lightning photography is that you do not need professional photo equipment to get great photos of lightning. In fact, just about any DSLR or mirrorless camera made in the last 15 years will do fine.
How to do it
Wait for a thunderstorm, preferably in the evening or during the night. Set up the camera on the tripod. First, avoid using Auto and preset scene modes. You need to be in control of the camera. Set the mode to long exposure. There are several ways about it and they may vary depending on your camera brand. One of these is M – Manual. Some cameras may have B – Bulb mode. This mode allows you to use a remote trigger to do exposures of any length. The other mode that is useful is the shutter priority mode (Tv or S). With this mode you can select the exposure time for your photo.
After you select the mode and prepare the camera, make sure the camera is level. Look through the viewfinder and make sure the horizon is level. Then focus the lens. The easiest way to do it is to set it to manual focus, and focus it on a distant light. Most cameras have Live View – use this feature to obtain precise focus. Once you have focused, keep the lens in manual focus mode to avoid the camera refocusing. Set the aperture and ISO, depending on the distance to the thunderstorm, ISO 200 and f/5.6 will probably be a good starting point. There is still quite a way to a great lightning photo – so here are some tips, tricks & short cuts!