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Essential Tips and Tricks for Capturing Amazing Lightning Images

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by ED CARR

The crackling web of blue lightning bolts against a dark and stormy sky is one of nature’s most mesmerizing spectacles – but it’s not always that easy to photograph. To make capturing those sky-high static bursts a little bit easier, storm chaser and photographer/filmmaker Hank Schyma has created a short video tutorial on the subject.

In just under ten minutes, Schyma covers a range of essential tips and tricks to photograph lightning. First things first, Schyma advocates the use of a tripod. As you’re often shooting in the dark, or extremely windy conditions, a tripod prevents motion blur and allows for a long exposure time. The sturdier the tripod the better, although be careful in an open field as the metal can attract big strikes to your location.

Following on, Schyma runs through the key settings you want to use on your DSLR (no smartphones please!) to get clear and captivating strikes in your images. He suggests a low ISO and an aperture of around f/8 at first, but adjust these if your images are too bright or dark.

For shutter speed, keep an eye on the ambient light conditions. If it’s really dark, then you can leave your shutter open for around 20 to 30 seconds, recording all the strikes that occur during that time. But for starting out, Schyma typically uses a shutter of around 1 to 3 seconds, keeping noise at a minimum.

 

After covering the basics, he then goes on to a few advanced tricks. For instance, to make a multi-strike image whilst avoiding the pains of digital noise, Schyma gives a quick run through on stacking your images in Photoshop.

To get the rest of Schyma’s lightning tips, be sure to watch the full video above. For more lighting tips, check out our How to Photograph Lightning article!


Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.

 

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