TIP #2: Lighting Photography by
Dennis O'Hara

With a few basic tips, your lightning pictures can be some of the most spectacular images in your portfolio.

The first lesson in lightning photography is to realize to power in a lightning storm and never to take a chance with safety. Always make sure you are photographing from an observation point that will not be in the path of the approaching storm.

When you have selected a location that will offer the widest sky panorama set up your camera on a tripod and use a cable release to ensure a stable platform for your camera as your shutter could be open for up to several minutes.

The most optimum time for shooting is when the sky is completely dark so that exposure times can be long.

Set you camera shutter speed to the "bulb" setting or the longest exposure time possible. Using a lens wide enough to view the entire horizon, set the F-Stop to 5.6 and use a film speed of 100 ASA, this will extend the shutter open time. The intensity of the lightning should easily expose the film.

Once the storm approaches, estimate the time between strikes and hold the shutter open for several good strokes or until you excede 2-3 minutes, depending on ambient light conditions. It often works well to have either city light in the distance or an object in the foreground for a reference.

With a few nights of practice from a safe location, you will be able to shoot great lightning images.

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