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Old Jun 1, 2006, 7:04 PM   #1
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It's thunderstorming big time here in MD (and is supposed to for the next several days). Would anyone like to share with me techniques on how to take good pictures of the lightning? Is it even possible without high-tech equipment? For reference, my camera is a Canon Digital Rebel XT.
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Old Jun 1, 2006, 7:23 PM   #2
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Here's a recent lighting shot from the "Landscape Photos". I think Justin used the Rebel XT with 18-55 kit lens.

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...amp;forum_id=8

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Old Jun 1, 2006, 9:13 PM   #3
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Thanks for the link, that thread was very helpful. I went up to the middle school (one of the highest points in the town) and tried to take some pictures for about an hour, but no luck. I don't think the lightning was frequent enough at that point. Hopefully I'll be able to take some pics to share with you guys in the next few days though.
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 3:33 AM   #4
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Night time thunderstorms are best for photographing because darkness allows long exposures.
One Finnish stormchasing site tells to use ISO100 and F4 to F10 apertures depending on situation. In case of lightnings striking inside cloud either sensitivity or aperture should be bigger because brightness is lower.
Also you need tripod... and using remote is good so that you can use bulb-mode and end exposure after lightning. Multiple lightnings in same photo sure look good but can lead to overexposure, of course you should experiment little with different settings to see which produces best results... after all "digital film" is very cheap.

Photographing day time lightnings is very hard because you can't use long exposures and catching lightning with short exposures would require huge amount of luck unless lightning is very dense.



Also as general rules try to stay on side of thunderstorm's path if you're not photographing it from terrace or other such relativily safe point. Thunderstorms can move very fast and lightning can strike literally miles away from cloud so try to avoid standing next to trees and other high obstacles. Espacially power lines are things to avoid because lightning can travel longer distances through them.
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 5:37 PM   #5
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E.T wrote:
Quote:
Photographing day time lightnings is very hard because you can't use long exposures and catching lightning with short exposures would require huge amount of luck unless lightning is very dense.
With most cameras, that's true.

But, I can remember viewing some lightning photos a while back from someone using an Olympus E-100RS where more than luck was involved.

This camera has a "pre-capture" feature that lets you take continuous photos, without actually storing them, until you want to (for example, when you see the lightning strike that you want to capture).

I think that a few more recent cameras also have the same feature (but, the models with it escape my memory for now).

From the Olympus E-100RS review:

Quote:
Besides the high-speed burst mode the E-100 RS also sports a unique pre-capture mode that can record one to five frames of action BEFORE the shutter is fully depressed. The first time that I read this I was a little confused -- how could the camera capture images before the shutter was pressed? The way it works is this, you set it for the desired number of frames to pre-capture and then aim it at your subject and half- press the shutter. It does the usual autofocus and exposure calculations but it also begins capturing images. The images are cycled using the "first in, first out" buffering method in the camera's DRAM but are not actually stored until you press the shutter release fully to begin your normal capture sequence. In this manner the shutter lag time is eliminated completely using the pre-capture frames so even if you misjudged the shutter release time by a half a second or so you still get to capture the entire sequence.


http://www.steves-digicams.com/2001_...100rs_pg5.html


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Old Jun 2, 2006, 7:46 PM   #6
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Cool to see my picture being linked to. :-)

For that night, I simply set the camera to 6 second exposures and snapped away, picture after picture (using manual focus). My Rebel XT was mounted on a tripod.

I concur on the remark about having a remote...which is why I'm going to go pick one up tomorrow. It should allow for much easier lightning photography.
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 9:30 PM   #7
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I havent gotten any good shots yet, but I played around one night to prove out my technique a little. I used my remote and locked the shutter open, f8-f11 iso100 manual focus, and just closed the shutter after I saw lightning. Some exposures were a few minuets but it was dark enough that nothing was exposed except when there was lightning.
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