How to photograph lightnings

A heavy thunderstorm in summer is always an impressive experience. You should try to make photographs of the lightnings. When doing that, you must make a difference between thunderstorms by day and by night. At night photography is quite easy. As in thunderstorms there is always heavy rainfall, it would he better to look for shelter. The most comfortable way is to make your shots through the open window from a room. Put the camera on a tripod and choose exposure time "B" for any exposure time whatever. A cable release with a locking device is necessary, because otherwise you would have to press the shutter release for several minutes. And you involuntarily move the camera if you do not use a cable release. As a beginner you should use a wide angle lens of 24 to 35 mm. So the probability to capture a lightning on your film will be higher. But distant lightnings do not look very impressive this way. After having watched the thunderstorm for a while you can estimate the direction in which most of the lightnings appear. Point your camera to that direction. Please take care that a part of the landscape is also in the picture if possible. With the shutter at 5.6 or 8 it is possible to expose for about 2 minutes at night and hope that a lightning appears in the right place. After each lightning the shutter should be closed to finish exposure. If after 2 minutes of exposure no lightning has appeared~ expose the next frame as otherwise this picture will become overexposed. The rate of good shots7 however, is always very low. A lightning will appear in just one of three exposures.

Even more problematic is lightning photography by day. With the shutter at position 11 you cannot expose for longer than about 1 second. If there are doubts, it is better to underexpose a5 otherwise the lightnings do rot stand out from the background sky. As soon as you see a lightning at the position the camera points at, press the shutter release. In most cases you will not get this lightning on your film as many lightnings are visible for just 1/10 of a second. The thought is, however, that lightnings often appear at the same position for several times one after another. It is possible that the second lightning has been captured on the film. But there are also 1ightnings which shine up for about half a second. In any case the rate of good shots will he very low by day. According to my experience, there is only one hit in about 10 exposures.

To make your shots, you should not go to an open field because a metal tripod can almost attract the lightninqs. Tall trees are also no good shelter. It is safer to make your photographs from a window or from a car. However, there are even reports of people who died when a lightning struck their car. The biggest dangers in thunderstorms, however, are not the lightnings, but the rainfall which often is extremely heavy (danger of flood) and strong wind. gusts.