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on Jul 9, 2013 in Landscape Photography

It Does Strike Twice

Storm Chasin '08 0965

It’s summer time and the afternoon thunderstorms are rolling through. I love it! Is there a trick to lightning photography? These days, you can capture the bolt pretty darn easily with tools like Ligthning Trigger, which permit you to capture the bolts even during daylight hours and not even touch the camera. And that’s when I think some of the best lightning images are made. Like many aspects of photography, just capturing the “one” aspect doesn’t make it a good photo. Just capturing a lightning bolt in itself doesn’t make a good photo. It’s just the subject and like all photographs, elements around it should support it. What are those elements? In the top photo, it’s the glow of the bright skies that are behind the storm. Summer thunderstorms typically are “regional” so getting to their edge, there is bright skies behind them that can light up the clouds giving them a unique glow all their own.

Big Hole 0123

Some of the strongest are simply clean landscape photos that can stand on their own without the lightning bolt. My favorite which is above was taken many years ago in Montana at sunset. The great color is courtesy of a forest fire and by simply turning the camera to follow the fast moving storm, the Lightning Trigger did the rest of the work. The “tricks” to this is first staying dry because often you’re in the rain. I have a large, golfer’s umbrella we use. It has a carbon fiber post that in theory help prevents being struck but lightning. And that is a concern you need to take into consideration. The other “trick” if there is one is to underexpose by at least one stop. It doesn’t lower the intensity of the bolt but the rest of the scene which then makes the bolt look brighter. Lastly, never leave home without your Lightning Trigger because the moment you do, you will witness the most amazing lightning storm, ever!