Right place, right time, right equipment (sort of!)


How to photograph Lightning...

This time last week I was sound asleep in my little tent dreaming of stars and lightning. It was 3pm in the afternoon and I was exhausted by the events of the night before.

I had been up all night photographing an amazing spectacle that I was 'sort of' ready for. I was on a personal shoot creating a new body of work for an exhibition in 2013 loosely titled 'Before time'. My intention was to shoot stars, star trails and 'imbed' myself into the images.

I was setting up for the shoot at midnight when the sky was at its darkest. I was on a rocky shorline at low tide in the Great Otway National Park when it felt like someone shone a torch in my face. My heart skipped a beat. A giant flash of lightning had just illuminated the land. I quickly retreated in the dark to a large rock overhang to check out if I was in any danger. There was no clouds above me and absolutely no sound of thunder coming from the now regular flashes of light that was now roaring across the way out in the deep dark Southern Ocean.

I realised I had the perfect opportunity to photograph a lighting storm from a safe distance. It was pitch black so using my torch I dialled in Bulb on my cameras shutter speed settings and firmly locked the camera onto my tripod. Bulb is a shutter speed beyond 30 seconds that the user controls. 

Southern Ocean lightning storm

Southern Ocean lightning storm

I didn't have my timer remote so I simply used an elastic band and a small rock to hold down my shutter once i activated it. As it was so dark only the stars illuminated the frame until a bolt of lightning lit up the sky. The lightening acts literally like a flash unit, perfect for exposing the scene. After each flash of light I closed my shutter (by carefully removing my trusty rock) checked the results and started the process again and again. It was a primordial scene that lasted the  next couple of hours.

Camera settings: Shutter approximately one minute dependant on when the lighting decided to strike, Aperture F2.8, Lens 24-70 ISO 640 on tripod with elastic band and rock to hold the shutter down!

To see more of the images click on this link Southern Ocean Lightning Storm