how to take photo of lightning?


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RxXxX

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Sep 10, 2006
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#1
due to recent thunderstorm, been wondering if its possible to catch lightning on cameras.
if so can all u CnC lovers help out and teach me haha.
if can upload some nice pics of shots taken and share the joy together :)
 

night86mare

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Aug 25, 2006
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#2
You need luck.

Since there is no way to predict where lightning will strike, unless you are going to get a crane and sit right below a thundercloud in the middle of a big field.. When you feel the tingling sensation on your hair then you know you're it and your last masterpiece will be completed right before you get zapped.

But jokes aside, I have never taken a lightning shot, but I've spoken to people who did, and they tell me that they just aim at a spot (preferably with tall tall things) and do random medium to long exposures (depending on what sort of lightning shot they feel like catching). =/
 

RtOaNn

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Mar 3, 2004
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#3
One way is to use Bulb mode then try your luck.
Basically, you need a black card too. Point your camera towards the possible location of the lightning strikes & place the black card in front of your lens. Trigger the shutter button & wait for the strikes.

When the lightning strikes occur, remove the black card & expose for as long as u think u need.
Then release the shutter button, check LCD screen.

Lots of trial & error la..better to have repeated lightning strikes, otherwise will miss the 1st strike one. Speed of light faster..haha
 

tkbonz

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Dec 11, 2006
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#5
Taking thunderstorms is both luck and experimenting!

Firstly, the thunderstorm NEEDS to be night shots and not day shots. What I found out is that the best way to capture lightnings is to have long exposures. If you used short exposures, you either must have the great instince of knowing when a lighting will strike or you're VERY lucky. What i did was to pick a shutter speed of around 4 seconds (up to you how long and also depends on your iso and aperture settings) and let the camera decide the correct exposure for the night scenery, you can alternatively use manual mode to take test shots before deciding on the proper settings. Usually you won't just point at the sky only to take the lighting, use a wideangle lens to show some land night scenery as well!

If you're trying to take day shots, no way you can't use 4 or more seconds of shutter speed (even with iso 50 or small shutter speeds) cause you will overexpose, unless you are using some special filter which i can't think of. Furthermore, the lighting's brightness will not contrast with a bright lit sky when compared to a night sky (quite obvious which one is more striking...)

Oh yar...before shooting, please mount your camera on a tripod (4 seconds exposure don't play play...). Quite obvious why as well...

THEN...start shooting! IF the thunderstorm is very active, just whack away with the shutter (using a remote or timer helps) and you can see the photos later. Never ever stop to wow at your photos, you may miss some special looking lightnings.

Another thing is that usually the lightning comes at regular intervals (usually...). So you can time the period in between lightning flashes and shoot them accordingly. If not the lightning comes after your shutter closes after the 4 seconds and your camera is busy processing the photos......sad...

Finally, this may NOT be the best way to take lightning photographs but I just want to share my own experience. Hopefully I can dig out some lightning shots to show you.

Have fun!
 

yqt

Senior Member
Sep 8, 2004
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#6
It's been a long time since I shot lighting. Last time was donkey years ago when I was still using film.

This is what I did.
1) set up tripot and switch off the room lights ( at least dimm it down to avoid flare )
2) set cam to "A" ( apt ) mode.
3) through trial and error, at asa 200, f.3.5 usually do the trick.
Note: At "A" mode, shutter speed is depanden on amount of light before closing the shutter so no lighting, not enough light to expose, so shutter remain open.
4) wait for lighting.
5) when lighting strike, check if shutter is closed, if not f. may be too small. Open up f.
6) since now using digital, check LCD.
7) for stronger/brighter lighting using lager f.
8) once you've got a "correctly exposed" shot, you will know what f. is the best to use. You can than set to "M" and do multiple lighting by controlling the shutter speed yourself.

This is using film on a Nikon 801s, should be the same with digital.

Oh, BTW don't forget a comfy chair and a nice cold beer. Lighting scenes are very beautiful.

Enjoy yourself ;)
 

RxXxX

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Sep 10, 2006
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#7
ya i agree a few nights ago i woke up in the middle of the night because of the thunderstorm... but took out my cam and started to take some shot
all i could get was either very bright or dark background not much luck though
must pray tonight got chance haha recently so heavy rains in the night... the small trees in my neighbourhood got rooted of from the strong winds haha....

have any nice pic or random shots of the lightning to all CS lovers PLS POST long time since i saw a nice lightning shot thx to all who post :)
 

#8
if you are talking about using DSLR, then you need luck.
But before my DSLR, i use to own a NIKON 8700. It has this last 5 shorts function.
I used to setup my tripod, f stops , ISO , ...etc and find a chair, sit myself down and
press the button for continuious shorts. AFTER lighting strike, release the button and you
will have capture the lighting. I have a few of the shoots , it in my CD, will have to look for it and post it. I remember it does no look good, but i captured it.

Have fun... :)
 

RxXxX

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Sep 10, 2006
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#9
Yeap thanks!! have fun to all.. take opportunity of stormy weathers this few nights to have fun
be careful though haha enjoy!!:)
 

night86mare

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Aug 25, 2006
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#10
ya i agree a few nights ago i woke up in the middle of the night because of the thunderstorm... but took out my cam and started to take some shot
all i could get was either very bright or dark background not much luck though
must pray tonight got chance haha recently so heavy rains in the night... the small trees in my neighbourhood got rooted of from the strong winds haha....

have any nice pic or random shots of the lightning to all CS lovers PLS POST long time since i saw a nice lightning shot thx to all who post :)
Look here:

http://forums.clubsnap.com/showthread.php?t=276699
 

nyxx88

Senior Member
Nov 17, 2004
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#12
shot some in 2005 (yes, it's been that long) & posted it here http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthread.php?t=159546.

the colors are pretty raw & no processed very well. did processing for one of them as a sample of the color range you can achieve



but i still like uncleparty's shot for its wonderful composition
 

ihub88

New Member
Mar 3, 2007
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#17
is there such as a device as a lighting detector to trigger the camera?
 

stimbijik

New Member
Dec 11, 2006
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very far
#19
The speed of light is 3 x 10^8 m/s.

What do you think? =)
I think lightning never strike at the same spot and since the speed of light is of that value you need more luck and :sweat: wait long long....lightning goes two ways, its like positive charges (from sky) and negative charges (from earth or building highest point).....:bsmilie: maybe can negative charge yourself or any metal plates near by?
 

hacknet

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Mar 20, 2007
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#20
i can think of a way to design one but i doubt there are any avaliable in the market..

it should be as simple as a simple LDR with a filter to all other light except UV and make sure you stick it out of the window. but i guess it will take a couple shots to finetune to threshold for the trigger.. sounds like a fun project.

imagine. stick the sensor there and go to bed, wake up the next morning to a CF card full of lightning pics!
 

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