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Old Jul 7, 2008, 11:15 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 70

It was storming out tonight, but not yet raining.

I've been waiting to try and get some lightning shots with my new D40 for a while now so I went racing outside.

I put the camera in "no flash auto" mode just to try something easy and no go. It wouldn't take a picture as it kept telling me lighting was too low.

I figured I had to be smarter than the camera so I switched it to shutter priority and selected 1/500 just because I thought that would be a good starting speed and I was not on a tripod. That seems way too fast now though. Flash was forced off. No go again. It just kept trying to focus and wouldn't take a picture. I figured then, that it had nothing to focus on since I was pointed up into a black sky (it was dark, night time). I flipped over to manual focus and turned it all the way one way.

The lightning bolts were too fast for me to get a shot of them and the rain came quickly so inside I went.


1) Any suggestions on mode, speed, aperture, etc. for capturing lightning?

2) Where is infinity on the 18-55 lens? It's not marked on the lens at all and from my quick reading it is possible to go past infinity and wind up with nothing in focus. How is that even possible?

3) I haven't tried yet, but does the same (non focusing) problem happen during the day if trying to take pictures of clouds because they are so far away?

Focusing on infinity just doesn't make any sense to me but it's what I keep reading about.

Thanks for any explanations.
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Old Jul 8, 2008, 8:36 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2006
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Go here: http://www.uscoles.com/howtolightn.htm . It is an excellent article on what settings to use. I used it to try the same and got some great results.

As far as your questions go.

For #1, the above article will do great for the settings. You will need to put your camera in manual mode in order to choose the shutter speed (I use bulb with a remote release) and aperture. For the least amount of noise, you should set your camera at ISO 200. You will absolutely need a tripod. You might be able to do without a remote release, but using one will help ensure that you do not introduce blurriness in to your pictures.
# 2, Turn your focus ring counter-clockwise as far as it'll go. That is infinity. At infinity, far away objects are in focus, but close one's are not. If you are trying to get great depth of field, you may be wise to choose an object about a 1/3 of the way in and focus on that.
#3 If you try to auto focus on the blue sky, the camera may not lock focus, but if you are shooting clouds, it'll probably lock focus. Basically you need sufficient lighting and something with contrast to focus. If you don't have both, you'll need to manually focus as best you can.

I hope this helps.

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