How do i take Pictures of lightning


Kal 10 d

Link Posted 10/03/2008 - 20:53
Ok ,as some, (or all) of you know im new to the SLR world and what with our weather lately im quite excited at the possibility of getting a few lightning pix to add to my small collection (labelled-"lee trying to be a photographer"-honest ,thats what my file is called!!).
So where do i start- with which exposure & aperture etc . Obviously it is at night mostly so i'll need (im guessing) a wider aperture and longer exposure time, but would this not be left to chance .... I know -im REALLY new to SLR game so be gentle, but i dont have a clue where to start ???? Thanks in advance for being so patient....
K10 d-18-55mm
Tamron 70-300mm

The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose..

MX veteran

Link Posted 10/03/2008 - 22:12
You really have to get lucky most of the time. Storms can come from nowhere when you least expect them. If you are shooting in the dark then if you know where the storm is you can point the camera in the right direction and use bulb and keep the shutter open for a long time, until you get a flash of lightning. BUT at any other time there is an element of luck to it. If you think about it though most flashes of lightning last at least half a second or so. Again if you can predict where the storm is going set up your tripod and use a shutter release and react bloody fast when lightning strikes. Somewhere I have a photo of a storm (on film) at night taken using bulb with about 7 or 8 different strikes. I was aided by a power cut over the shooting area so there was no street lights etc. I was lucky 'cos I had time to quickly set everything up. I couldn't focus, so I used F11 at infinity and held the shutter open with a cable release for at least 2 minutes.
K100D Super, 18-55, 50-200, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 70mm macro and lots of old lenses

amoringello

Link Posted 10/03/2008 - 22:17
Easy as pie...

Exposure is variable. I generally use 30 seconds at a time. For the K10D and RAW, this works well without too much noise and without turning on the noise cancellation -- which requires a thirty second dark frame to be shot. Thus you can are waiting doing nothing until that noise canceling frame is done.
Don't know if that makes sense for you but in short, be sure to turn off noise reduction.

Unless there is something closer that I want to see clearly, I try to focus on infinity (not necessarily the focus stop at the end where the 8 mark is. It is usually slightly less than where the focus ring stops moving).
If you can see anything at all, focus on the most distant object you can see. If not, try to find the actual infinity focus spot before hand, and note that for later.
If it is so dark you cannot focus, it may not make much difference anyway since you'll probably get silhouettes anyway.

As for aperture, I usually try F8. Depends on the lens and focal length.
Also depends on the amount of ambient light you want to show up.
If I want it dark I close down to a smaller aperture like 8-16.
If I want the foreground to show up I may open up a bit.

The ISO, you may have to play with. I tend to stay at 100 or 200 just to keep the noise down to a minimum. But if the lightning is dim or if you want the ambient lighting to show up more, you may have to go up higher.

Shoot RAW. The RAW converter does a wonderful job at removing noise. Once it is written as JPEG, the noise may not go away too easily.


One thing to note... if you have the K10D, the Remote Assistant software is rubbish for continual shooting.
You can set it up to take a repeated 30 second exposure... which works well for about five images. Then it all goes to hll and you spend your entire evening trying to make it work.
Save yourself the trouble, just set up bulb mode, and hold the release yourself. (or set to 30 second exposure.)


Google probably will lead you to sites that explain in more detail. But I found a lot that make it out to be more difficult than it has to be.

In short, just keep your exposure to 15-30 seconds (more or less).

MX veteran

Link Posted 10/03/2008 - 22:39
amoringello
That's OK at night but what about in the day? I agree at night it's quite simple, but surely there is more to it in daylight. A lens of about 35mm helps 'cos depth of field is greater, and stopping the lens down also helps. I agree with your points about ISO and RAW
K100D Super, 18-55, 50-200, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 70mm macro and lots of old lenses

amoringello

Link Posted 11/03/2008 - 01:54
I was mainly concentrating on the "Obviously it is at night mostly..." comment as a basis for my initial response., but good question. Never done daylight lightning shots. I'm guessing add a number of "luck" filters and good timing.

Trying to click the shutter once you see the lightning won't work, so you'd need some way to leave the shutter open for a reasonable length of time.
If F22 (or higher) won't get you there, I would try to throw on enough ND filters to bring the exposure down.

What sort of daylight? At some point the lightning may not significantly outweigh the ambient light, so aperture and filters won't help much.
At that point I'm lost.

gartmore

Link Posted 11/03/2008 - 17:06
I only tried this once; with some success using the 'B' shutter technique. Unfortunately the strikes didn't have that classic look and some people thought I had drawn them on!
Ken
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -

Mongoose

Link Posted 12/03/2008 - 14:25
just an idea, but during the day if you were to stop down and/or use an ND filter to give you a nice long exposure time you'd have a better chance of catching a strike.

It will never look as impressive during the day though.

Also with regard to the noise cancelation setting, there's nothing to stop you taking your own dark frame and subtracting it in software later. Not sure about other RAW converters, but UFRAW (which is free) allows you to pick a second RAW file and use it as a dark frame. I use this for astro photography and it works really well.
you don't have to be mad to post here



but it does help

Kal 10 d

Link Posted 12/03/2008 - 18:44
Mongoose wrote:
just an idea, but during the day if you were to stop down and/or use an ND filter to give you a nice long exposure time you'd have a better chance of catching a strike.

It will never look as impressive during the day though.

Also with regard to the noise cancelation setting, there's nothing to stop you taking your own dark frame and subtracting it in software later. Not sure about other RAW converters, but UFRAW (which is free) allows you to pick a second RAW file and use it as a dark frame. I use this for astro photography and it works really well.

Whats a ND filter??

Aha ??!! neutral density filter...
K10 d-18-55mm
Tamron 70-300mm

The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose..

karma mechanic

Link Posted 13/03/2008 - 11:02
If you get a lot of lightning and have enough money then one of these would be invaluable:
http://lightningtrigger.com/
My own website is www.richardgaddphotography.com

Also on 500px

beakynet

Link Posted 13/03/2008 - 12:17
amoringello wrote:
Trying to click the shutter once you see the lightning won't work

What about holding black card in front of the lens while with shutter locked open on bulb? When you see a flash, remove the card and replace. This is a technique to taking firework pictures and might be applicable here too.
Bodies: K5IIs, K7, MZ5n, LX, MV
Lenses: DA*16-50, DA18-55WR, DA18-135, DAL35, M50 F2, A50 f1.4, FA50 f1.4, DA*50-135, DA55-300, Tamron 70-300, DFA 100 WR Macro, M135 f3.5, Sigma 120-400 APO DG HSM, Tokina 500 f8.0
Flash: Metz 58, Metz 48
Accessories: BG4, Pentax right angle finder, Pentax mirror adaptor lens, O-ME53 Viewfinder Loupe
Auto 110 System: Auto 110, Winder, 18mm, 24mm, 50mm, 70mm, 20-40mm, AF100P, 1.7x telecon

Mongoose

Link Posted 13/03/2008 - 16:17
beakynet wrote:
amoringello wrote:
Trying to click the shutter once you see the lightning won't work

What about holding black card in front of the lens while with shutter locked open on bulb? When you see a flash, remove the card and replace. This is a technique to taking firework pictures and might be applicable here too.

I believe what amoringello is getting at is that your reaction times are not fast enough to catch something as brief as a lightning strike unless you are very very lucky or it's an unusually long strike. I've seen repeat strikes which appeared to last several seconds, and those you could obviously capture easily, but they are not common.
you don't have to be mad to post here



but it does help
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