AG: AlexGaluzin

Experiments in Level Design + Environment Art & Photography

First Time Tips for Capturing Lightning Photography with DSLR

Photography
July 09, 2022

I hate waiting. And if you are capturing lightning, then you’ll be waiting a lot. The anticipation of the possible next capture is addicting. You have your finger on the shutter bulb button, ready to press.

The first time I went out to capture lightning turned out to be a failure. Nothing happened. I sat there for an hour hoping something would light up in my frame but nothing did. I didn’t even know if my settings were going to be right.

One thing about Florida summers, there is a lightning storm on almost daily basis. So I didn’t have to wait too long.

Wednesday night. 8pm. Still bright out.

I set up my camera frame towards where I hope to capture the lightning.

For almost an hour, lightning strikes everywhere but in my frame. I couldn’t reset my shot due to my limited point of view.

Then few lightning strikes began to appear nearby. I switched my framing a bit to the left. Captured a few. Maybe I get to capture something today.

By the way. Here is my setup. The most important part of capturing any lightning in a photo.

DSLR camera. I have DSLR Canon D60. Older camera but still performs like a beast.

Tripod. Here is the tripod I bought from Amazon.

Intervalometer.

Intervalometer will allow you to shoot in Bulb mode and press the button on the intervalometer whenever you see lightning strike. You don’t want to be touching the camera. You will be exposing your frame for few seconds, depending on your settings. So camera must be on the tripod and untouched during the capture. That’s why the intervalometer is needed.

This is the intervalometer I got for Canon D60.

You press the button to start the capture then release to stop. Most of my shots were set to ISO250, F11 and at 24mm focal length.

I also set up the camera during late evening while it was still bright. It allowed me to manually focus on the furthest object I could see which was the electric post. As it got dark I kept the same frame and same focus.

As the storm got closer some of the lightning began to appear in my frame. I was excited. I started to capture few good shots. Proving to me that the setup I was using is right.

For next hour the storm began to create a show for me to photograph. I finally started to press that bulb button on intervalometer. For next 60 minutes or so I sat in anticipation. I missed a few good shots. I also deleted more shots than I captured but the final results came out better than I had hoped.

I didn’t like the wait but the anticipation was exciting. Next time I will capture even better shots. I now know that intervalometer and bulb with manual focus with low ISO at around 200 were the winners. Also, I held down the intervalometer button for anywhere between 5-10 seconds. When I knew I captured good lightning strike, I held down for less.

Excited for the next one.

Up Next: What I Learned from My First DSLR Time-Lapse


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