• Jay

Lightning photography


Lightning photography (shot on Sony A7riii, 16-35mm GM, ISO 100, F5.6, shutter speed 8s)
Lightning photography (shot on Sony A7riii, 16-35mm GM, ISO 100, F5.6, shutter speed 8s)

Isn't the photo amazing! After I had my dinner yesterday night, Veena and I was just chilling at our living room watching Netflix, suddenly, we felt strong wind and saw lightning in the sky, 1st thing on our mind, get our camera gears!


What are the things you need to prepare?

1) camera + lens

2) tripod

3) intervalometer


Camera + lens

You must at least have a camera which allows you to go into the "manual" mode. In most of the camera, M = Manual, it's normally located at the dial mode.


As for lens, very much depending on your preference, like what I've share on my lens section, whether you want a closer shot, wide shot, more or less foreground etc... For me, I chose to use zoom lens which is Sony 16-35mm GM lens, so, the chances of getting the lightning is higher as it is wide angle.


Tripod

Since it's night photography, to get a clear and steady shot, tripod is definitely needed. When it comes to the setting part, I will explain more about this. We need to ensure the camera is mounted on the tripod so that the camera will not be shaken during the process of taking the shots.


Intervalometer

This is a device which will avoid you from getting hit by lightnings! hahaha, jokes aside. This device will make your camera to set automatically take photos based on the set interval and also based on the number of shots you set, hence, you need not stand beside the camera to wait for the shots to be ready and having the risk of getting struck by lightnings. It will also allows your camera to do longer exposure shots than your original camera settings. Normally, the camera will allow max 30s long exposure, with this device, just switch your camera into "bulb" mode, attach this device then set the needed long exposure timing, then, it will do the trick!


Setup

1) Lightning is not stagnant, it will move, but, it has a pattern, either towards the left, center or right, but luck is also needed. Before setting your tripod, try to use your camera/ phone to see which is your preferred composition, then, only set the tripod.


2) Make sure your memory card has enough space, I would strongly suggest you to clear your memory card, I only got 1 out of 300 shots taken! On top of that, please ensure you take it RAW in order to retain as much of information as possible. By the way, RAW is a format of the file format, RAW file size is maybe 10 or 20 times or your JPG file as it retains lots of original information, it will also enable you to recover/ safe the photos at post editing. So, shoot RAW! You will find this settings under the camera file format options.


3) Mount your camera to the tripod. Set your camera to manual focus. Difference camera has different way of doing it, as for my Sony lens, I just need to switch the button AF (auto focus) to MF (manual focus) at the side of my lens. All camera will also allow you to set it inside the camera settings menu, normally under focus settings. After you've switched it to manual focus, return to the shooting scene, set your composition right, then, slowly turn the focus ring (normally the ring in front of the zoom ring) until it shows this symbol "∞", it means infinity. This will allow your camera to identify "what to shoot" even though it is very far. Take a shot to ensure your camera is able to take a clear shot.


4) Switch your camera to M/ manual mode. Recommended settings (based on my preference) would be

- Aperture F/5.6 or above

- Shutter speed 6s and above

- ISO 100-200


The longer the shutter speed is, the chances of getting the shot is higher, however, you need to ensure it strikes a balance on the exposure of the photo by looking at the light meter. I recommend go under exposed 1 or 2. Do not set the exposure like when you take normal photo where light meter is 0. The reason is because when lightning strikes, it will become over exposed. So, always go under exposed for lightning photography, if it is really too dark, you may recover the details in post processing, again, shoot RAW!


5) Attach your intervalometer, different brand has different features, goto "interval" shooting mode, set the number of shots (I prefer to take 50/ session first, then review, subsequently retake by 100 shots/ session), interval wise depending on your long exposure timing, you will need to set slightly longer than your shutter speed. For my case, shutter speed is at 8s, the interval I set was 10s.


I hope the steps are not too lengthy, share with you if you find the above tips are useful for you, please also share your photos, I can put it into my gallery, Good luck!



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