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Get the Most of Your Camera for Great Lightning Photos

Get The Most Out Of Your Camera.

In the first part of: Get the most out of your camera, we looked at how to use the aperture and the creative uses of depth-of-field. In this part well look at how to use the shutter button on your camera and how both the shutter and the aperture control exposure.

The shutter is a mechanical device that controls the length of time that light is allowed to act on the film.
Most standard cameras allow us to use a range between 16 second and 1/1000 second. You might be wondering, why anyone would use a long shutter time of 16 seconds: Ive used this and even longer shutter times when taken lowlight landscape images. I would always advise the use of a tripod with these long exposures time to avoid blur images.

Using a shutter speed of 1/125 second should safely avoid overall blur due to camera movement if you hold the camera by hand. Any longer shutter time should require a tripod.

Each time you open the shutter by one, we double the light, when we close down the light by one we half the light. Open the shutter at 1 second allows twice the light as that of a second.

The shutter can also be used creatively when taking landscape images or sport images. If you want to add motion to your image a slow shutter speed can give an image an extra bit of sway. No more so than taking images of streams. Using a slow shutter speed when photographing water will cause the water to blur, resulting with the image expressing motion.

By contrast, a fast shutter speed of 1/250 would be used in shooting wildlife or where the subject that youre shooting needs to be still and sharp. Most wildlife photographers would use a fast shutter speed.

By using the shutter and aperture together we control exposure. Both allow light to enter the camera: the shutter by time and the aperture by the size of the hole in the lens.

For example: youre shooting a landscape scene; you get an exposure reading at f/11 at second. You know that by using f/11 that the entire image wont be sharp. You want to shoot at f/22, which is four times less light than f/11. You need to quadruple the light through time; each time you open the shutter by one you double the light, so open it by two stops and your exposure time will be 1 second. Your final exposure should read f/22 at 1 second.

At the best of times, calculating the correct exposure can be a difficult task, but with a few simple tips our images can produce eye-catching colours that we see all around us every day.

Tips for Taking Great Lightning Photos

Lightning photos are very dramatic. The contrast between the night darkness and the lightning brightness results in very powerful photos. In this article we will provide you with a few tips and guidelines for successfully taking lightning photos.

 

The first thing to do when preparing for lightning photography is to set the camera to manual mode. Since all the preparations are done in a dark environment the camera can not automatically set the right focus, exposure and aperture.

 

Set the focus to manual and focus the camera on infinity. This is the right setting since lightning photography is done from long distance. Set the exposure to anywhere between a few seconds to a few minutes. The right exposure depends on the type of lightning some lightning last a friction of a second while others can last a few seconds and the distance from the lightning storm. Usually you would guess what the right exposure is and after the first lightning shot you would have to review the photo and correct the exposure as needed.

 

Remember to turn the flash unit off. Flash is not needed in lightning photography but if left in automatic mode the camera might fire it anyway due to the dark scene. The aperture should be set to a small value since lightning are very bright and with a small aperture they will still be more than visible in the photo.

 

Now that the camera is set you will need to choose the right scene for the photo this is also referred to as framing the photo. To make lightning photos more interesting try to find contrast or objects that will be interesting when lit or stroked by lightning. Such objects could be trees, city sky line, roads or antenna towers. After your first lightning shot you should review the photo and make any needed corrections to the photo frame.

 

You can also play with other settings of the camera to achieve different effects. For example you can take photos with different white balance settings to achieve different color temperatures.

 

Remember that it can take a very long time to take one good lightning photo. Since there is no advanced notice as to when lightning strikes you will need to take photos continuously as the lightning storm is active. Be patient and make sure you are comfortable. Keep yourself dry have plenty of food and coffee and prepare for a shooting session that can last hours. After doing all the preparations and framing your photo the only thing to do is wait. Some luck can always be of help in getting this one perfect lightning photo.

 

And last but not least make sure that you are safe. Lightning can be dangerous. Make sure that you are not too close or in the heart of the storm. Avoid having metal objects around you or tall sharp objects. Remember that lightning strikes the highest object that can conduct its electrical current to the ground.

 

In conclusion taking good lightning photos is not hard. It takes a lot of patience some know-how of camera settings and regardless of your photography level it also takes a lot of luck.

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