A month or so ago, during a gorgeous lightning storm, a friend texted me and asked, “How do you shoot lightning?”
I was on my way back from an out-of-town trip, but I responded that I wasn’t sure. Guessing, I sent her some manual settings that I would have started with, but the truth is, I didn’t have a clue. I had never shot lightning before. But, I did think that lightning makes some of the most beautiful images and I wanted to give it a try.
It doesn’t rain much in Texas. So, lightning isn’t something that I get lots of chances to capture. I didn’t have my opportunity until June 26.
Most everything I know about photography, I have either learned by trial and error, read on the world wide web or in a photography magazine, or been fortunate enough to learn from photography-loving friends. So, even though I’m about to tell you how I shot lightning, it doesn’t mean that this is the best or correct way to do it.
- I started with manual settings that allowed me to capture the ambient light (street lights) in the distance (f 2.8, ss 1/100, iso 2500). I was using a 17-55mm f2.8 lens.
- I used automatic focus to focus on the light furthest away from me, then immediately switched to manual focus and left it there.
- I made a mental note to bring mosquito spray next time. They were eating my lunch!
- I also switched my camera to its fastest rapid fire setting. In my case, this is six frames per second.
- I waited… with my viewfinder pressed firmly to my eye.
- I steadied myself against my porch rail and waited. I realized this is a lot like deer hunting.
- Anytime, the lightning show started, I pressed the shutter button and hoped I caught something.
- After a few tries, I changed my manual settings to f 2.8, ss 1/40, iso 6400 and this is where I stayed for the duration.
In hindsight, I think I’d have to speed up my shutter speed some. I can detect some camera shake in some of the pictures. I think the biggest components to shooting a lightning show are patience, timing and luck! Enjoy my shots!
Here’s my favorite shot from the night!
(Writing this tutorial was fun! If there is anything technical you’d like me to write about, please leave a comment to this post or drop me an email. I’ll give it my best!)
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co. in 2010 and I am one of the premier San Antonio wedding photographers who is available for local and destination weddings. In addition to wedding photography, I also specialize in high school seniors and family portraits in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. I am a professional photographer who enjoys documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I enjoy watching my daughter play softball, hiking, cycling and listening to Elvis!