Lightning strike

February 01, 2019

I've always wanted to have a go at lightning shots, but felt they were somehow mysterious, needing superhuman timing, maybe a funky gadget or two and oodles of luck. Well, some of those are certainly useful, but putting aside those issues, a storm over the house had me out on our deck. Armed with a vague inkling of how to go about the task, a little perseverance, and a lot of luck, WHAM!! Lightning does strike where you point the camera...

Lightning strike over MiesLightning strike over Mies

This was shot in August 2018, using the Canon 5D MkIV with the 24-70mm f/4: 24 mm, 8 seconds at f/4 and ISO100. Manual exposure, manual focus (just back from infinity), VR off. Once the framing was as I wanted, the interval timer was set to take 99 shots with an interval of 2 seconds. In all I took, or more accurately the camera took, somewhere in the region of 4-500 shots. From those, maybe 3 or 4 had a lightning strike of some sort, but this was by far the winner. Processed first through DPP, with minimal adjustments save to reduce the exposure by 1/2 ev, oh and to set the white balance to "White fluorescent" (bringing out the purple/blue tones), and ending with a light touch in PS.

Some reflections - don't be inhibited, and just give something a go - there's learning in every failure, and part of developing skills is being prepared to fail. Looking again at the exposure, I think I'd have been better at ISO200 and 4 seconds: a little less noise to deal with. And then, since I darkened the image by about 1/2 ev in DPP (the illuminated sky was just too bright), shooting at either f/5 or f/5.6.

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