Photographing Lightning (Think Flash)

by John Downey

I shot this image tonight during an approaching storm that never arrived.  I was standing outside the bedroom and confirmed multiple finger strikes before bolting downstairs to grab the camera and tripod.  The first frames rendered an overly yellow hue so I switched from an incandescent white balance to flash.  The driveway exposed neutral while the sky took on a saturated magenta/purple.

Lightning is easy to capture.  Calculate exposure for foreground elements first, over-exposing a stop, then adjust aperture for the sky after a few frames.  I underexposed the image above to saturate the sky and bring out contrast of the lightning against the clouds.

Once shutter speed is set (shutter release cable is unnecessary if longer than 2 seconds), keep clicking away until a strike happens and there you go.

15sec @f4, 17mm, ISO 160.

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