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Thread: First try at lightning

  1. #1

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    Bobo

    First try at lightning

    Intense lightning storm here last night.

    Only shot that came out reasonably out of a 100 or so. Possibly mad a bit more interesting by the cloud formation to the right which looks like either a rabbit or a goldfish.

    Considering that there were over 1000 strikes over about an hour just one was a pretty poor effort.

    Comments welcomed.

    First try at lightning

  2. #2
    ninanative's Avatar
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    Nina

    Re: First try at lightning

    WOW!!! Fantastic shot. I am quite jealous though, I have been attempting any lightning shots for the last few months, with absolutely no success. Though, again great shot!

  3. #3

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    Re: First try at lightning

    Thanks Nina.

    Though it is a matter of timing you can help out the camera.
    I used some of the tips found on the internet about taking such shots.

    Tripod or stable surface.
    ISO 100
    f11-22
    15-30 sec exposures (or bulb)
    For sky shot focus to infinity then switch lens to manual.
    If there is a foreground, compose and focus to that.
    Luck.

    A rain cover would be good to have. I did not for the 2 lens that were used and both got a good wash from the heavy rain. Luckily no damage (I think!).

    MOST IMPORTANT - make sure you do not go to a position that attracts strikes or you will be toast.

    Next time around I am going to try to find an interesting foreground.

  4. #4

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    Kris Harmon

    Re: First try at lightning

    What lens did you use? A good solid wide angle lens and preferably an area where you can see the bolts hitting the ground make for better impact shots. When I shoot lightning storms I easily go through 150 to 300 frames depending on the intensity of the storm and how long it lasts. There's other factors involved as well with shooting lightning. Try to be on the leading edge of the storm which means having to pick up and move often to stay ahead of the storm. If you get on the back side of the storm the lightning is often washed out by rain shafts.

    I have a slight issue with the suggested F-stop in the tips in the above post. At night, I have yet to use any F number higher than F7. Notice on the main bolt that it's not as crisp as the other bolts. ISO 100 or 200 are both good. I'm not a foremost "expert" on the subject but shooting lightning is far and away my favorite subject to shoot.

    This is a very nice first effort, and considering our lack of significant storms in west Texas this year, I am jealous of anyone who has the opportunity to go out and shoot lightning.

    Congrats on the effort, and if it's available, shoot with a lens between 10mm and 17mm when you're as close to a storm as you were with this particular shot.
    First try at lightning
    IMG_1061 by KHarmon1971, on Flickr

  5. #5

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    Re: First try at lightning

    Thanks Kris.

    I rarely get the opportunity so have absolutely no experience here. Next time with your suggestions in tow will be better prepared.

    The storm was quite intense and wife was not pleased about me wanting to go out. Tripod had been lent to a friend. So opened a window, used the sill for support bit raised with a beanbag. Lens was nothing fancy - a Tamron 18-270. Most shots were at 18 with a few slightly zoomed. Exposures were varied between 15secs to 60secs. Remote shutter used to shoot continuously.

    As the lens was sticking out the window it got a pretty good wash. Stopped to clean off the drops a couple of times. And the best flashes happened right about those times when I was doing that - story of my photography life.

    Btw - your shot is great. Hopefully sometime soon.

  6. #6

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    John Wright

    Re: First try at lightning

    What problems did you have with the others,Bobo ? f4 - f7 is what is generally used but if it's close you made need to go to f8 - f11 to stop it blowing out. It's a matter of trial and error when you first set up checking the LCD .Lesson learnt here too - don't loan out your tripod-hard to say no I suppose if a friend asks but it's called sods law and it has a habit of coming along at the most inopportune moments. The tripod is always going to do a better job than a bean bag (which I have too so they are useful). What a pity about the rain. Ref. the rain cover-Mmm. well, if you need a rain cover you shouldn't be out in that position,it's dangerous but if you have shelter and it's blowing in on you then it would help.You didn't have ideal circumstances did you. From your description of the storm your wife was right in being concerned about you going out in it- not recommended. The mostv danger for storm chasers is not tornadoes,you can avoid them but lightning. Don't despair at Kris's photo- You can quickly get good shots like that especially if these storms are regular-most often here if you mess up on one you have to wait until the following year lol.

    Ref. focusing if you can manually focus on a distant light that would be fine- I used to get in on the tiny lights of any farmstead or other distant buildings,sometimes there would be red light on top of a distant tower.

    This was shot at 24mm at f11 because it was near ,much less of an f-stop and it would have blown out so it's important to keep an eye on that LCD and magnify it so you can see if the bolt (s) is sharp.This was at Hamilton,Kansas.You can even see the bright green of the grass where it earthed,as you see a bit too close for comfort/safety.

    First try at lightning

  7. #7

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    Re: First try at lightning

    Thanks John.

    I did get about 20 shots with streaks in them but the one posted was the only one that was worth doing anything with. Most of them came out with just too many drops of water from the wet lens covering critical parts of the pics.

    Normally with the tripod I can have the camera inside and not get the front wet. Obviously with half of it hanging out the window was no help. A "raincoat" is on the buy list which should also be handy when it starts snowing in a couple of months.

    Will bear in mind the near and far aspects. Thanks for that tip and that about apertures to use.

    Yours is a lovely capture btw.

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