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Image of the Day: Monday August 18th August 18, 2008

Posted by Team SnapVillage in image of the day.
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Lightning Bolts and Clouds at Night

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  “Lightning Bolts and Clouds at Night”
Contributor: kavita

Why we like it:  We had some terrific Kansas-style lightning in the skies east of Seattle last night, quite a rare spectacle for us. Inspired by the meterological show – I’ve selected a great lightning shot recently uploaded by kavita. While it could be sharper, this shot has a great exposure, and a fantastic line of four bolts (with what looks like a fifth on the way).

If you haven’t tried it yet – shooting lightning is a fun exercise. Lightning is one area where the advent of digital SLRs has made getting good shots tremendously easier. The ability to snap and then check your shot immediately after has eliminated some of the challenge in getting decent lightning pics – but great results still take patience, practice and luck.

The basics:

  • Be safe!
  • Use a tripod, plus a cable release or timer
  • Consider using a wide angle lens to get in some of the landscape or cityscape in the bottom of the frame and a large swath of sky above. Telephoto shots of lightning can be amazing but are even more challenging – start wide and then work your way up to a longer lens when you have got the basics down.
  • Shoot in manual exposure mode
  • Bolts are bright – stop down a bit to f5.6 – f8 or so, even more in daylight
  • Your exposure length will vary – this is where you’ll have some terrific advantages with a digital camera as you can experiment and check the results immediately. If you are shooting at night you’ll probably need to set your camera on “Bulb” or a 20 – 30 second exposure
  • Focus manually – set your lens to infinity
  • Shoot in RAW mode if your digital SLR has it for the most post-processing flexibility
  • Finding that you’re really into shooting lightning? You might consider trying the Lightning Trigger for even more fun.

 

Have some other tips and tricks for shooting lightning?  Share in the comments!

 

– Brian

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