It’s a rare moment when I can actually photograph a lightning storm. Usually I am driving, busy, or I just plain miss them when they happen. But the real truth is I have a terrible fear of lightning. I’ve broken plans with people because of it. Regardless, I am fascinated with photographing lightning and my fear of them turns into determination to photograph them. I’m so proud of these! By the way, the 2nd image is probably a stand alone. I have managed to photograph the Goodyear blimp with a lightning strike!! I was out at about 7:50pm. I heard that humm in the sky that only the blimp makes. Then I spotted it right where the lightning was lighting up the clouds. I thought to myself if I can get that shot it would be pretty impressive. So I waited, and sure enough, it didn’t take long. The blimp was only in sight for about 3 minutes and I could tell I’d have to get a strike soon before it disappeared behind my neighbor’s house.
Generally speaking, these photographs are only lightly edited for web, for example, blacking out the sky, or gently bringing out the colors of the lightning. A strange color effect was happening in my images. In some, the clouds would light up a vibrant purple, in others, a pretty blue. I used luminosity to remove the pixelation. A little cropping and that was it!
My settings started out at 1/125 of a second at f/3.5 using my 17-35mm. Honestly, it was sheer luck that this lens was already mounted on my D800. I hadn’t really researched how to photograph lightning ever, but I supposed to myself that I had two choices. Leave open the shutter for a long exposure and capture an entire strike. With that I risked an over exposure if there was a long strike, which there were lots of! Or the opposite, which suited this scenario better for me. So I sped up the shutter at first. I wasn’t getting enough ambient light and was mounted on my tripod knowing I didn’t have to worry about blur. So after fiddling around I wound up at around 1/40 pretty much the rest of the hour. I was able to leave my release at cH but still only got 3 or 4 in succession before each strike ended. ISO mostly at 800 and sometimes 1000. By the end, I realized I could go handheld with minimal to no blur. It was SO exciting to time my shutter press with the strikes. The sky would light up and I’d click reflexively. The first shot I realized I got I literally said: “OH MY GOD.” and then “YES!!”