When it comes to finding the right tips for taking photographs of lightning, you should keep in mind that the most important rules you can follow have nothing to do with photography at all. Rather, they are more for keeping you and your equipment safe.
Photo: Owen Zammit
While photographing nature at her wildest is one of the most thrilling challenges photography can provide, there’s little point to it if you end up risking getting electrocuted or drench your best cameras in the process. Try to take your pictures from indoors, if possible. Never stand in the middle of a field, especially if your camera equipment is on a tripod or pole. Never take your snapshots from underneath a tree or near bodies of water. These simple precautions will do wonders for keeping you safe.
The ideal tips for taking photographs of lightning center around what type of storm to follow. Ideally, the type of weather is typically when it’s not raining or hailing and the wind isn’t dangerously high. Other atmospheric conditions include what type of clouds are above. Some storms have clouds where the lightning will arch downward, where others consist of clouds where the lightning appears as brilliant bursts of muted flashes from deep inside the clouds. While both provide wonderful pictures, it’s a good idea to know the difference between the two.
Another good way to ensure that you always take great storm photos is to take a good look at the natural and unnatural sources of light around you. Taking photos of storms on bright, sunny days is one of the most difficult, as there is little contrast between natural daylight and the bolt of lightning itself. Be sure your flash settings are adequate: sometimes the burst of light is too bright, and you end up with the landscape in sharp focus, but a blurry lightning bolt.
Another fun way to create unique storm photos is to make good use out of the landscape around you. Few things are more dramatic than an excellent shot of a firey bolt with a tree or a building standing silhouetted with it. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at discerning what subjects go well with storm photos. For a symmetrical effect, try choosing naturally tall things near the bolt, such as radio towers, cactuses, or spires.
These are only a few tips for photographing lightning to consider. Keep in mind, as you practice, that a lot of photographing unpredictable subjects like these lies in skill, reflexes, and blind luck as well. Don’t be discouraged if it’s not perfect right away. With practice, you’ll learn how to make the perfect shot.
About the Author
Rick Valence is a digital camera repair specialist at C.R.I.S. Camera Services in Chandler, Arizona. Along with being a camera and photography enthusiast, Rick enjoys digital camera repair blogging in his spare time and traveling around the world to find exotic regions and experiences to photograph.