30 Apr 2010 738 views
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This is my first (and only) lightning shot. It is just one of those things that I believe most photographers strives for. I live in a house surrounded by trees, with no clear sight of lightning strikes in the area. So when I was on holiday in November last year, I noticed another late afternoon storm brewing in the mountains. I drove out to a high point and tried all tricks to predict the strike, or catch the strike. There I was standing; counting, shooting, swearing etc. In the end I noticed that a big strike is followed on the day by a smaller one about 1½ secs later. The space between the big ones unpredictable. But I did manage to catch a small one and am mighty proud of it :-)

This picture is dedicated to that half hour. A storm was passing close by behind me. The strikes way too close - they would only screw up the exposure. So I ignored that one and tried the one in the valleys below.

What is your favourite technique for shooting lightning shots?

comments (22)

  • SAVO
  • United Kingdom
  • 30 Apr 2010, 00:23
(clapping my hands) well done and good on you have not been successful at shooting lightning so cant advice you but you have done a good job here.
Louis: Thank you SAVO, it seems to me that it will remain a question of luck as well.
  • alex
  • United States
  • 30 Apr 2010, 00:55
Louis, this is a great lightning shot to have. Likeyed.
Louis: Thank you alex, I feel honoured with the likey.
Very cool capture! Congrats for capturing it. I need to buy a new remote and get back to work one day!!!
Louis: Thank you expatraveler - I guess a remote will help smile Would have for me ...
Even without the lightning this is a beautiful shot. I have no advise but to not wear aluminum foil on your head while you are out chasing lightning bolts.
Louis: Thank you Mary. Why would I wear aluminium foil, I ask myself in wonder grin

Mary, the picture of wednesday past at http://louis.shutterchance.com/photoblog/Fields_too_/ was meant for you to see and maybe comment on it from the painting artist's point of view. And then you didn't pay a visit smile If you have a moment, please?
incredible! i like that it is not dark out and you still managed to capture this - and you can see the rain! bravo!
Louis: Thank you Charles. I guess when it is dark, you can use long openings and avoid those breathless seconds you stand at the ready, waiting for the strike.
  • Ginnie
  • in Atlanta right now!
  • 30 Apr 2010, 03:16
I have never even tried one of these, Louis, so you are way ahead of me. The day I get one, you'll be th first to know! This is something you can definitely be proud of.
Louis: Thank you Ginnie. Maybe it is just the thing that happens on holidays, when my time is mine.
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 30 Apr 2010, 04:04
My technique seems rather like yours, Louis...swear a lot...look for patterns...swear some more.

I have a few shots with lightning in them, but none I would be prepared to show.

This is such a glorious landscape that it is [almost] disappointing to have the darn lightning competing for my attention.

Congratulations! I am just a little green [with envy]...
Louis: Thank you Ray. If the lightning was prepared to do what I was wishing onto it, there could have been many little lightnings in a prick pear bush by now.
  • Astrid
  • Netherlands
  • 30 Apr 2010, 07:03
Petje af, Louis en een hele diepe buiging, vloek jij in het Afrikaans of in het Engels.
This is an amazing picture, I have tried a few times, no lightning wel heel veel gevloek, in het Nederlands.....
This is worth enlarging.
A likey to me.
Louis: Swearing happens in any of a number of languages, but I think in Afrikaans the most. Some words just feel stronger in another language. My favourite in dutch is 'shitte-pitten' (made it up myself). Thanks for the likey.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 30 Apr 2010, 07:14
Oh, Louis- geweldig, prachtig, ik heb geen woordjes om zo veel schoonheid te beschrijven- dit is je mooiste foto die ik ooit heb gezien! Heel bedankt ook voor je informatie! Je moet nu gelukkig zijn- wij ook als we ddit nu bekijken!
Louis: Bedankt Philine. Ja ik ben gelukkig ook met de reacties van verschillende van de mede-fotograven en die van jouw.
  • Chris
  • England
  • 30 Apr 2010, 07:25
Crikey Louis - that's amazing! You must have perfect reflexes
Louis: Thanks Chris - if you knew about the missed ones ...
I have never tried but after seeing this gem I might just have a go!
Louis: Thank you Bill - just remember to blog and share at the time smile
  • Carlib
  • France
  • 30 Apr 2010, 08:34
Wow, Louis!! You did just fine!
I would be so proud if I could do as well... but I never tried it yet! smile
This lightning adds the perfect touch to an already beautiful picture!
Louis: Thank you Carlib, I am starting to think that I paid so much attention to the lightning that I only now start to realise how good the setting is.
I have to say I tend to stay in under the duvet. LOL

You have a great success here.
Louis: Thank you cornishmaid. Under the duvet - the place to be smile
And you may be proud Louis. This is a fabulous capture I wish I had done myself!
Louis: Thank you richard, I am glad you like it so much.
  • Marion
  • Ireland
  • 30 Apr 2010, 17:27
Wow!! I like the layered effect of the mountains, and that lighting is really the icing on the cake!! Errr, mountain!!
Louis: Thank you Marion, I am starting to think that I paid so much attention to the lightning that I only now start to realise how good the setting is.
So would I be proud Louis..A great capture..Well done.
Louis: Thank you Ron
I am SOOOOOO jealous right now, been trying to get something like this for years :S
Congratulation on such an awe-inspiring photo
Louis: hank you William. A combination of opportunity and luck. Night shots would be easier - but then I have to go stand on an elevated place - I am more scared of things that go crawl in the night than of a lightning strike.
WOw! Stunning picture! I want a picture of it on my wall! grin I really like that.

I was just looking at these pictures when I remenbered you.
Check it out: http://www.lightstalking.com/bird-photos
Louis: Thank you Tomás. That lightstalking site has some excellent bird pictures, I am really impressed.
Well you won't catch me waving my graphite fly rod around, excellent photo I am jealous,
Louis: The rod was in the back of my car smile This was in the hills at the back of Himeville. Thanks for the comment Rory.
Great capture Louis. What a magnificent place and moment. Your effort was well worth it! I hope you post a black and white of this one someday too.
Louis: Thank you Edward. On Monday I will place one where I fiddled the gamma. Not one of the mono coloured version I have tried seems to be satisfactory, so I abandoned the idea.
this is also very cool louise...Im on the fence about which i prefer

what i do know is that to catch a lighting shot on 100th of a sec is amazing. Normally i open it up for as long as possible to at least a few seconds to give one as much chance as possible to get one or more bolts. But this is rarely during the day and mostly when its dusk or darker so long exposures are easier to acheieve.

and yes it still involves creative use of swearing smile
Louis: Thanks liam, yes night shots with long shutter speeds should work easier. Thanks for the comment again.
I like both images of the lighting Louis... but i like 30 April image more that the one that you treated..... i find it difficult to capture bolts during the day and your method worked well....

night shots are easy... get under cover and set up on a tripod... open the shutter and let the lightning do the work....petersmile
Louis: That part about getting under cover. Wish I knew someone with a high rise flat in the city. Would have become my bad weather friend smile Thanks for the comment, peter

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for this photo I'm in a any and all comments icon ShMood©
camera Canon EOS 500D
exposure mode shutter priority
shutterspeed 1/100s
aperture f/5.0
sensitivity ISO100
focal length 32.0mm
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