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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Holy Moly - lightning shots are tough.
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04/29/2006 12:43:10 AM · #1
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04/29/2006 12:19:38 AM · #2
That's an amazing shot samdoe. So crisp and clear. Yes, I'll look at some of the exif data notonline. Thanks for the tip on the filter eschelar.

Message edited by author 2006-04-29 00:22:18.
04/29/2006 12:15:19 AM · #3
Originally posted by eschelar:

If your camera was near the wide end, it's entirely possible that you got close to it's hyperfocal distance. It's pretty easy to do with those tiny lenses. At f/5.6, my S2 goes into Hyperfocus beyond something like 5 meters. That's pretty close.

As far as the color, I don't know, but possibly AWB kicking in and making some radical changes based on the light temperature of the foreground lights?

I just learned in a video tutorial from Radiant Vista website that when correcting a color cast, you are changing the color balance. Yellow will be corrected by adding blue. They didn't say it, but I believe that this allows the picture to retain it's luminosity while changing the colors.

If your camera was correcting for that yellow in the foreground, it would probably have ended up with other things that are blue looking really blue. As to what would pull magenta or red out of the sky, I think I don't know. Maybe it was just that dark and got overpowered... ?

I believe I commented quite extensively on that picture, and I have thought about it afterwards. It's interesting because the parking lot itself isn't all that interesting, but having the foresight to use it as a foreground tool makes that picture so exceptional.

Context is king!


Not sure what it was, but I sure loved the outcome. :) And thanks again for the compliments.
04/28/2006 10:10:01 PM · #4
If your camera was near the wide end, it's entirely possible that you got close to it's hyperfocal distance. It's pretty easy to do with those tiny lenses. At f/5.6, my S2 goes into Hyperfocus beyond something like 5 meters. That's pretty close.

As far as the color, I don't know, but possibly AWB kicking in and making some radical changes based on the light temperature of the foreground lights?

I just learned in a video tutorial from Radiant Vista website that when correcting a color cast, you are changing the color balance. Yellow will be corrected by adding blue. They didn't say it, but I believe that this allows the picture to retain it's luminosity while changing the colors.

If your camera was correcting for that yellow in the foreground, it would probably have ended up with other things that are blue looking really blue. As to what would pull magenta or red out of the sky, I think I don't know. Maybe it was just that dark and got overpowered... ?

I believe I commented quite extensively on that picture, and I have thought about it afterwards. It's interesting because the parking lot itself isn't all that interesting, but having the foresight to use it as a foreground tool makes that picture so exceptional.

Context is king!
04/28/2006 03:33:39 PM · #5
Originally posted by eschelar:

SamDoe's shot is one of the absolute best lightning shots on the site, but it represents a fairly challenging and lucky shot.

What can be learned from it though is that it is very useful to work with your scene before actually trying to get the lightning. Another thing is that he appears to have corrected that purple look that is so often in lightning shots. It's not a bad look, but see how striking that pic is with the yellow foreground and the blue sky. Different variations like this can make the difference.


Thanks for the compliments eschelar. The small aperature does occasionally limit what you can do, however, you can usually get around it. I don't normally even use the min aperature (f/8.0) on my camera, and as you can see, this shot was done with f/4.0 in the middle of downtown Milwaukee with many lights all around and still got a shutter speed of 5sec. There was also no correction on the color of the lightning in that shot, and I was surprised myself on that. I'm not sure as to what caused it to be blue instead of purple. The only editing that shot went through was levels, curves, neat image, and USM. It is a challenging shot to get, and most of the time it's simply lucky that your shutter happens to be open at the time, but it is definitely a rewarding experience and shot to get. Good luck at getting one yourself!
04/28/2006 01:56:37 PM · #6
Shooting an FZ7, you won't have a very narrow aperture ratio (f/##) to use, so you might benefit from an ND filter? A small one for your camera shouldn't be too much money. There are plenty of other uses for them as well.

Get a few and get some stronger ones, you should be able to do a fair bit that way, particularly if you are limited to semi-daylight or semi-dark.

SamDoe's shot is one of the absolute best lightning shots on the site, but it represents a fairly challenging and lucky shot.

What can be learned from it though is that it is very useful to work with your scene before actually trying to get the lightning. Another thing is that he appears to have corrected that purple look that is so often in lightning shots. It's not a bad look, but see how striking that pic is with the yellow foreground and the blue sky. Different variations like this can make the difference.
04/28/2006 12:56:46 PM · #7
all the exif data is attached to my photos if you save it and view it you should be able to read it. I believe I used f4 for 4 sec or f 8 for 8 sec. or it could have been a combination of those.

edit to add: It may also depend on how dark the storm is.

Message edited by author 2006-04-28 12:58:25.
04/28/2006 12:56:34 PM · #8
Accidental double post, sorry.

Message edited by author 2006-04-28 12:56:51.
04/28/2006 12:56:34 PM · #9
Lighting shot done with Panasonic FZ4:
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The exposure was done with:
ExposureTime : 5.00Sec
FNumber : F4.0
ExposureProgram : Shutter Priority
ExposureBiasValue : EV0.0
MeteringMode : Division
Flash : Not fired(Compulsory)
ExposureMode : Auto
WhiteBalance : Auto
FocalLength(35mm) : 35(mm)

04/28/2006 12:51:33 PM · #10
That's awesome - thanks to all for your input. I'll keep experimenting :)
04/28/2006 01:06:08 AM · #11
i tried a few shots out the back window during a storm we had her tuesday night. out of 40 clicks, i got 4 shots, two of which were fairly good.

unfortunately, my mother (who was visiting) and my wife were in the next room watching tv and didn't want to sit in the dark, so you can see some reflections in the window glass. also, like the moron that i am, i picked a window with a screen, so you can see the grid in the shots.

oh well... it was practice, and i kinda learned what it would take to get it right. tripod, remote, iso 200, 30+ seconds, and f/mucho...

i also had the d70's noise reduction on, which ment each shot took twice as long... i'm sure i missed a few because of this, so that might be something to consider...
04/28/2006 12:15:42 AM · #12
Been shooting a bit of lightning myself lately, however, haven't mastered the early morning or early evening shots yet. Just like they are saying, you have to play with it a bit. You can check out the lightning shots in my portfolio, haven't cleaned them up yet. Hard rain storm one night so you'll see the raindrops all over my windows.

Mine were done at:

manual setting
15, 20,and 30 second exposure times
ISO @ 200
f5.6
lens set to infinity

BradP cleaned one up for me brilliantly as I am a newbie to CS2. Good
luck with your shooting.

Editing to say, mine are taken out of the back window overlooking the ocean, so it's rather dark where my camera was sitting. Took some out of the front of the house and the street lights changed everything.

Message edited by author 2006-04-28 00:17:27.
04/28/2006 12:11:50 AM · #13
My experience with capturing lightning has been limited but gave good results... so here are some suggestions.

With an active lightning show going on, I usually take shots between 5 and 30 seconds (just take pics in succession and hopefully it strikes in your exposure...its hard to catch the lightning after you see it.) the time depends on the iso and f-stop...whatever you need for the conditions (depends on if youre in a city with lights or in the middle of nowhere etc). keep in mind, for weaker lightning, you will need either a higher iso or a lower f-stop to have it well defined...and so a shorter exposure (to not overexpose). a remote works wonders for keeping camera shake down. If you dont have one, set your timer to the min. time setting and use that...this way you wont shake the camera triggering the shutter. otherwise, just keep snapping pics and you'll get some eventually. happy hunting..

JS

04/28/2006 12:04:10 AM · #14
The basics of lightning photography are actually quite simple. First things first...trying to press the shutter the moment you see lightning will not get you what you want (it sounded like this is what you are trying to do). You must use the BULB setting on your camera (or the longest shutter speed you have avail.) Second, you need to stop down your aperature to about 22 (to allow a long exposure without burning your image). Thirdly, you need to focus your camera at INFINITY...to make sure the lightning bolt will be in focus. Oh, if you can, set your ISO to 100 or 200 to reduce grain. Finally, put your camera on a tripod and point it where you think a strike will happen next (you probably want to use a shorter lens for this, to help increase your chances that you will capture a bolt within your frame)
Capturing a bolt during the day is VERY difficult because of the exposure time (the light will burn your image before a bolt will likely strike). But, you can get lucky if you want to try. I personally shoot at night...I can leave my camera open for several minutes without burning the image out.
One more thing, don't worry about the small aperature - the lighting is extremely bright and should expose perfectly.

Let me know how it goes...and post your favorites!
04/27/2006 11:54:35 PM · #15
There were a few threads about this the other day. Have you tried the search function? From what I remember, I think the general advice was that F-stops and ISO had to be played with - aka, take some trial images until it looks like it'll be dark enough for a long exposure. One of the folks used 30sec exposures, and I'd say a low ISO (100, 200), and mid range F-stop (20ish) to start with. But I'm just guessing.
04/27/2006 11:47:13 PM · #16
I've been looking with unabashed envy at some of the superb lightning pics posted on these forums.

With my first camera, a humble Samsung Digimax V4, I took over 200 shots just to get one with lightning in it. It was a beauty but the shutter-lag on this cam is atrocious so it was just plain luck I got anything.

I upped the ante with a new Panasonic DMC-FZ7 recently, and although this morning's dawn thunderstorm was spectacular and the shutter response of the FZ7 was much faster, by the time I pressed the go-button the show was over and mostly I just got the lightning after glow, with a bit of camera shake to boot (although I used a reasonable tripod).
Manual triggering of the shutter seems a no-no for this type of photography.

So I've got to make some changes. The FZ7 will shoot up to 60 secs in 'starry sky' mode, and I'm wondering what you would recommend as the f setting and iso setting for such a long exposure in subdued dawn light, so I don't burn out the image.

Any tips much appreciated.

Thank you!
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