I could be out running. Or sleeping.

Categories: lightning   Photography

Ah, last night started with good intentions. Headed to bed early, planned to sleep in a little bit, then head out for a run. Come 4:30 though, I was awake. But it’s not as bad as it seems, since I was woken up by a big thunderstorm. I was awake enough to decide to grab my camera and see what I get lucky with.

So, 4 minutes later, standing on the front porch in my pajamas, I start shooting. Hmmm…it’s mainly whats called Cloud-to-Cloud lightning, which gives nice light and a lot of thunder, but not a whole lot to take pictures of. After about an hour, as I was starting to get a little bored, one bolt shot right over my head, with the thunder following immediately. (And as the pros say, it sufficiently scared the crap out of me made me jump.)

After being sufficiently awakened by that, I did manage to get two shots in:

lightning 2008-06-22-2 lightning 2008-06-22-1

Now, for those people interested in such things, here’s how I do this.

It’s important to have a tripod. And a camera that can be set in “bulb” mode, where you can hold the shutter open as long as you want, or a “time” mode, where you can tell it how long to stay open. A cable release is helpful.

Set up the camera, plug your cable in, and grab a chair. I generally start with short exposures, and build up to longer as I see how each exposure comes out. In the middle of the night, if the street lamps are out, I’ve done 15-20 seconds. The shot on the left is a 9 second exposure, and 11 seconds. (Of course, I’m holding it open, then once I see the lightning, I release the shutter so it closes.)

I generally step the shutter down a couple stops to help block out extra ambient like. I suppose a filter would probably help with this, but I don’t have the appropriate one.

(I should probably note that I’m sitting on my front porch, which is covered. That’s important so I don’t get soaked if it’s raining, and I have some sort of protection from the lightning.)

Well, now that the sky is clear, I should probably for that run. But heading back to bed is looking pretty good too…

Written on June 22, 2008