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Thread: storm from afar

  1. #1

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    storm from afar

    storm from afar



    saw this storm last night so i stopped and took some shots....(about 200) this one was the best

  2. #2
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: storm from afar

    Nice capture, but it looks a little bit blurry / out of focus... Did you use a tripod?

  3. #3

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    Re: storm from afar

    yea, definitely on a tripod. due to the darkness, it hard to finely tune the focus to ensure a perfect pic, usually i focus on a nearby light, but couldnt find one close enough. guess i couldve used the flash. know any other good tricks to focus at night? oh and the wind was blowing the camera strap, which must've caused the slight vibration shown by the red line in the bottom left corner(gotta remember that next time). luckily that movement doesn't usually affect the lightning being its usually as fast as a camera flash and imprints itself on the long exposure.

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    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: storm from afar

    Hey Lee,

    I'm no expert at shooting lightning, I've only done it once and got a bit lucky with it....

    Having looked at the EXIF data from your pic I can see that this was an 8 second exposure at f/5.6 and ISO 800.

    I'm not familiar with Canon equipment as I use Nikon, but even at ISO 800 there looks to be a fair amount of noise / grain in the sky.

    How frequent were the lightning flashes? And how predictable were they in terms of where they were landing? The reason i asked these last two questions is beacause when I took some shots of some lightning I was extremely lucky because the flashes were very frequent and all were hitting in roughly the same spot. So I set my camera at ISO 200 (which is pretty much the lowest it goes) and used the widest aperture for the particular focal length I was using (f/5.0). I then went for a much longer shutter speed (30 secs) and got lucky with a few flashes during that time. The decreased ISO + increased exposure time that I used is almost equivalent in terms of overall exposure to what you did, yet my settings benefitted from less noise and an increased chance of lightning. But I appreciate not all circumstances are the same when shooting lightning, but I hope you get my drift. I just think that lightning bolts are bright enough to make an impact on the picture without the need to crank the ISO up, especially if you're using a largish aperture like f/5.6.

    Like you I also took a lot of shots though! In terms of focus point I can't remember where I focussed. I have a feeling I may have even focussed to infinity. Either that or there was something lit up in the mid-ground that I focussed on.

    But during those shots I moved around a bit and tried to compose the scene with some foreground interest, as I would with any landscape shot. I find with your pic that, while the lightening bolt is nice, there's very little else in the scene to hold my attention.

    As you've also pointed out there is some visible camera shake. What kind of tripod / head setup have you got? You need something that's pretty sturdy for those lengths of exposures especially if, as you said, it was quite windy. Sometimes weighing your tripod down with something (e.g. your camera bag) can help if it's particularly windy. But if it's quite a cheap, flimsy tripod and head then there aint a great deal you can do to make it sturdier (I'm prepared to be proven wrong here). Perhaps wedge your camera with something on the roof of your car next time, or use a bean-bag to rest it on or something!

    Also, use the self-timer or a remote cable release to prevent camera shake when you press the shutter release button.

    I hope I've given you some tips for next time, but like I said I aint an expert so hopefully someone will come in and add / subtract from what I've said. I just hope I haven't said anything too misleading either!

    Do you live in a lightning-storm-rich area? Or was it a bit of a one-off?
    Last edited by RockNGoalStar; 9th August 2011 at 07:34 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: storm from afar

    At night and depending on ambient light, the best settings I have found for shooting lightning at night has been between F4 to f 5.6. Try to find a place where you can focus on a distant street light or my favorite, a radio tower. "B" setting on a tripod.

    This one was shot in 2010 in Plainview. The storm was a good distance off and I haven't done much as far as post processing or cropping. The wind was blowing so the city lights are a little fuzzy, but the lightning itself came out pretty nice.
    storm from afar
    IMG_0017-1 by KHarmon1971, on Flickr

  6. #6

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    Re: storm from afar

    it was a small lightweight tripod. good call. its my travel tripod that stays in my car. the bigger, heavier, (more expensive) tripod stays at the house unless i know i'm taking pics. nextime i'll be a little more inventive. at night, it stays on a remote/timer, that night i was at a soccer field so while the camera snapped pictures, i kicked the ball around in the dark for awhile.

    i'm working on decreasing the ISO. finding that sweet spot is a little trickier, but i think the image quality is worth it. so i'm gonna work with it

    and as for where i live, this time of year, we get isolated storms daily in the afternoon from 4-8. if i'm lucky i can catch one of these storms in the distance at evening or night and watch them spark off for hours if they're slow enough. but there is almost always lightning somewhere within 20 miles of me any night. the heat lightning is almost guaranteed.

  7. #7

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    Re: storm from afar

    Quote Originally Posted by dragonflyphoto View Post
    it was a small lightweight tripod. good call. its my travel tripod that stays in my car. the bigger, heavier, (more expensive) tripod stays at the house unless i know i'm taking pics. nextime i'll be a little more inventive. at night, it stays on a remote/timer, that night i was at a soccer field so while the camera snapped pictures, i kicked the ball around in the dark for awhile.

    i'm working on decreasing the ISO. finding that sweet spot is a little trickier, but i think the image quality is worth it. so i'm gonna work with it

    and as for where i live, this time of year, we get isolated storms daily in the afternoon from 4-8. if i'm lucky i can catch one of these storms in the distance at evening or night and watch them spark off for hours if they're slow enough. but there is almost always lightning somewhere within 20 miles of me any night. the heat lightning is almost guaranteed.
    We are SUPPOSED to have isolated storms from time to time here during this time of year. Unfortunately, my lightning chases have been limited to three storms this year without much as far as results go. I'm hoping when the fall cool fronts start coming in and hitting the warmer air it will give us the right mix of ingredients to fire off a storm or three.

    KHarmon

  8. #8
    Ramblinman's Avatar
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    Re: storm from afar

    Quote Originally Posted by KHarmon View Post
    At night and depending on ambient light, the best settings I have found for shooting lightning at night has been between F4 to f 5.6. Try to find a place where you can focus on a distant street light or my favorite, a radio tower. "B" setting on a tripod.

    This one was shot in 2010 in Plainview. The storm was a good distance off and I haven't done much as far as post processing or cropping. The wind was blowing so the city lights are a little fuzzy, but the lightning itself came out pretty nice.
    storm from afar
    IMG_0017-1 by KHarmon1971, on Flickr
    I tried to take some pictures of a lightning storm a week ago, and could not find the right exposure time. Too short, the images were too noisy and under exposed. Too long, the images were over exposed and there were no distinguishable details in the clouds.
    I had set the camera to bulb, set to ISO 1000 and set the aperture between 4 - 5.6.

    What is a good exposure range for lightning shots?

  9. #9

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    Re: storm from afar

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinman View Post
    I tried to take some pictures of a lightning storm a week ago, and could not find the right exposure time. Too short, the images were too noisy and under exposed. Too long, the images were over exposed and there were no distinguishable details in the clouds.
    I had set the camera to bulb, set to ISO 1000 and set the aperture between 4 - 5.6.

    What is a good exposure range for lightning shots?

    Because lightning is so bright, try shooting at 100 ISO or 200 ISO. That will reduce the noise quite a bit. Shoot on bulb or set the timer at night. Daylight, late evening, or cityscapes (something I have yet to try) is different. Anywhere there's ambient light will effect the F-stop and exposure time. I would try not to shoot any lightning at more than F7 or you risk losing some of the sharpness of the lightning.

    I don't remember the setting on this shot, but I remember it was bulb and somewhere in the five to eight second area.
    storm from afar
    IMG_1191 by KHarmon1971, on Flickr
    KHarmon
    Last edited by KHarmon; 10th August 2011 at 05:33 AM.

  10. #10
    Ramblinman's Avatar
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    Re: storm from afar

    This was taken last week. Because the storm was distant from my vantage point, the lightning was not bright. Also, there was no cloud to ground lightning so I did not capture any lightning bolts. So I had to use a higher iso setting, and wider aperture.
    storm from afar

    This was was taken last week also, but the storm was pretty much right over me, so I was able to use a narrower aperture and lower ISO (dont remember)for a crisper image.
    storm from afar

  11. #11

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    Re: storm from afar

    This was my first attempt at clicking lightening & stacking images. I took multiple shots. Set the camera on bulb mode & waited for a bolt. Then repeated it. Selected a few good ones & then stacked these. One thing I forgot to do was, switch off the VR
    Here is the shot.

    storm from afar

    Aperture was set at f/13, ISO 200...

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