Lightning photography isn't as hard as you think it is. With this tutorial you'll learn how to shoot lightning photos both in the day time and at night.
Camera gear you need for lightning photography
- A camera with manual mode (any entry level DSLR or mirrorless camera should have this). I use the Lumix S1 for most of my timelapse work these days.
- A tripod. I mainly use the Manfrotto 190Go!.
- A camera remote. Check out this post about cheap and expensive timelapse remotes.
- An ND filter (for daytime photography). I use PolarPro filters.
How to shoot lightning photographs
- Set your camera to manual mode and make sure you're shooting RAW photos.
- Grab your timer or remote and set the interval to 3 or 4 seconds.
- Set your exposure time or shutter speed as close to the interval as possible. Test this to make sure your camera can write all the data to the memory card and doesn't skip any frames. Usually I'd recommend to leave at least one second between new photos. So 2 seconds exposure time with a 3 second interval leaves 1 second in between. For lightning photos though you want your camera to be exposing as long as possible to make sure you don't miss any of the lightning bolts.
- If you're shooting in the day time you will have to mount the ND filter which will allow you to use longer exposures.
- Hit start on your remote, sit back and (safely) watch the storm roll by! Afterwards import your photos into Lightroom and colour grade however you please.
The reason I recommend shooting your photos in a series with a fixed interval is because not only will you end up with a bunch of cool lightning photos, you will also end up with a series of photos that you can turn into a timelapse sequence. Check out how to do that in my free e-book The basics of timelapse photography.
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