Drew May Photography | Fun with Lightning

Fun with Lightning

June 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

This weeks blog is brought to you by lightning the most exciting thing that I can photograph. :-)


So if you haven’t noticed I spent a lot of time looking for lightning and bad storms. I guess I’m searching for drama, In the sky and in my life I guess. Being a landscape photographer, it’s very important to look for drama. What makes an excellent image, in my mind is a lot of visuals, something for your eye to grab onto. I love creating an image that people will enjoy, It’s not always about me, But it’s very important that my eye is intrigued. Reality that’s quite obvious. 


So throughout this summer, I’m going to be chasing storms, looking for that ultimate image that will complement my vision. It will have to, bring not only pleasure to your eyes, but bring pleasure to my heart. So today I thought it would be good, to talk a little bit about what it takes to capture some of these images, I have got it I’m about to get this summer. 

So I’ll start with the first one this was called Prairie Light, it is very popular on 500 PX. With in the area of almost 40,000 views. I’m rather proud of it to be honest with you. I never thought it would get that much play at all, but I’ll accept whatever play it does get. :-) But I bet you’re wondering how I was able to capture a lightning bolts in the middle of the day. Well it’s quite simple called the lightning trigger I’ve talked about them before, but let’s get a little bit more in-depth. There are varying types of triggers available right now, some are very inexpensive, some are very expensive. But strangely enough of them have seen, do not have any form of weather sealing. I wonder if that’s to keep you out of the rain and away from the lightning, or just because they’re too cheap to seal it. 


Which one do I have? 

 Patch Master: http://www.pmgadgets.net 

But here are some links to others;




Here is a DIY just because,



Understand I’m not four or against any lightning trigger, I am sure they’re all equally good, this is just happens to be the one that I use. There’s even a DIY on YouTube and online with a little bit of searching you can make of your own. 


So what what else is needed well, the good camera doesn’t hurt something that can take a little bit of rain. So that means it means some form of weather sealing. You’re not going to dunk it in the water, but there is a possibility they might get rained on. Don’t forget your lens needs to be sealed as well. 


Well it is up to you if you feel you don’t need a lightning trigger. it does keep your camera from shooting endless photographs. But I’ll give you that other method right now, Just so you don’t think that I’m only for lightning triggers. The other method involves constant shutter releasing. First set your camera to manual, and set it to continuous shutter activation. If you have a cable release all you would do is plug it into the camera set into relatively long shutter speed so this means you have to be at night, or have ND filters. Put your camera it on a tripod. Point your camera at the coming storm, compose. Press the shutter for your cable release, lock it in place. I almost forgot lock your camera focus to infinity and lock on manual focus. 


From here on you’re at the mercy of nature.:-) 


You see simple, but can you imagine a half hour lightning shower and your camera going off every 20 seconds or so. That’s going to leave you with hundreds and hundreds of images with no lightning in them at all. And you’re going to have to go through each and everyone, to see if you captured something. But if you’re really lucky you might get one or two bolts in the same 20 or 30 or 15{what ever is needed} second exposure. So now you understand why I use trigger, it’s a great investment for $100. I But it does work, and it is a way to try it out so give it a shot. You might like it. But please at all costs be safe and don’t be stupid! :-) 

So this next image is the last one that I got, that I think is worthy, from the last little wondering I did last Saturday night. Scene was getting very dark and 20 seconds was not enough to expose the scene, But that was my plan. I wanted as much darkness I think it adds to the mood. When you don’t see is the effect of what is referred to, As mirror slap. If you can lock your mirror before your exposure to it, get using live you or actually shooting your beer first. You may not notice any vibration in your lightning itself or the surrounding area but any extraneous light will show a slight motion. 

One of the things I see a lot of lightning shooters do is not compose the image. They use the lightning as the complete directions of the image, as if it is the entire image. To me there has to be some form of leading line, or something in the foreground, but that’s the landscape photographer in me. Please don’t forget about your composition is if the lightning wasn’t even there, It makes a beautiful image with the lightning added to it as well. 


So for the next little while I will be chasing storms and what I will do, for the next little while, is I’ll put out a single image to give you a short little treatise on it. 

So get out try some lightning shooting be safe, Be smart, take a raincoat, don’t forget your tripod, and enjoy photography in all it’s strangeness and it’s beauty.


Keep shooting, talk to you!!

Cheers! :-)


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