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Light in Photography -  

Photographing lightening

The idea off waiting with the camera ready to photograph lightening like waiting to capture a wild animal on the run or suddenly picking up the camera to capture high action in sport - it never works.

The duration of the lightening is very quick, so the way many photographers do this is to work at dusk or dawn, rather than in complete darkness, and to stop the aperture down to say f 22, place the camera on a tripod or other support and open the shutter for an expended period of time – perhaps several minutes for each exposure. This way any flash of lightening will be recorded by the camera. There can also be several flashes in the same exposure.

With digital, you can easily continue to do this until you get what you are after. This way the ambient light of the scene also plays a role in the exposure – and the image becomes combination of both the lightening and ambient light. If you managed to capture the lightening discharge with a fast shatter speed you would find you would only have an image with the streak of lightening but with no context to the wider environment.


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