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Lightning Photography Tutorial by FramedByNature Lightning Photography Tutorial by FramedByNature
For more photography, visit Framed By Nature .NET

Capturing lightning can seem like a daunting task, but if you know the basics, it's really quite simple! Tried to make this tutorial as comprehensive as possible to answer any questions and issues that may arise when attempting to shoot lightning. If you have any additional questions, feel free to comment :)

Don't be discouraged if you don't have a DSLR and a tripod! I took the 3 shots below with my point-and-shoot.


The only lightning-related thing this really doesn't cover is stacking, which I'll write a separate tutorial for. Figured I'd leave it out of this one since this focuses more on shooting than processing :)


Happy shooting! :camera::peace:
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:iconesmeekramer:
Esmeekramer Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Student General Artist
What kind of program would you advice for raw photos? With the normal program they cannot be opened
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:iconesmeekramer:
Esmeekramer Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013  Student General Artist
Awesome and really helpful!! Unfortunately I don't think my parents would allow me to go to a 'thunderstorm shoot'... :)
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:iconjared-photos-others:
Jared-Photos-Others Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I will have to try this :)
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:icondogsofeternity:
dogsofeternity Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012  Professional Photographer
Very helpful and informative, thank you so much for creating and sharing this.

Cheers!!
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Photographer
Hope it comes in handy, glad to help! :)
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:iconechic10:
echic10 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2012  Professional Photographer
Nice tutorial for the starting photog, very handy. If I might make a couple of suggestions, 1st - Rain Protection. To keep my camera dry I have used a one gallon freezer bag. Put a piece of cardboard in the bag. Then you need something just smaller then your primary lens diameter (quite commonly a 58mm dia. for many Canon lenses) Look for a jar lid in your kitchen, or maybe a large pill bottle cap. It only need to be a couple of mm smaller. Trace the outline on the side of the bag next to the bottom. This way when the camera lens is pointed through the hole the bag top opening is slanted. down. You can stop here, poke the lens through the hole, slap a little gaffers tape around the lens filter to secure the bag and you're done. I got fancy and picked up a multi-prism filter, popped the prism out, then sandwiched the bag between the ring and a clear glass filter. A lens hood will also help keep the lens dry. #2 A quick rule of thumb: the human eye takes in about the same field of view as an 80-85 mm lens. So the so-called "stock" or "standard" 50-55 mm lens is actually a smidge wide-angle. Something to keep in mind when selecting a lens to use.
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Photographer
That's an awesome idea! I've just been using a rag or grocery bag. Reinforcing/shaping it with cardboard is something I have yet to try though.
80-85mm seems way too tight to cover the field of view of the human eye. When I hold my 50mm on a FF body up to my eye the magnification is nearly the same. 85mm would be much tighter. Maybe accurate for what the eye can focus on at one time, since that's a much more narrow area, but in terms of field of view I would think it's a lot wider (considering including your periphery vision, you can see nearly 180 degrees left to right with both eyes open).
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:iconechic10:
echic10 Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Professional Photographer
I guess you could call it the "apparent" field of view. There was an article about this in a photo mag years ago (I come from a long line of photographers, going back to the thirties) that measured what people "see" vs what a camera with different lenses take in. 65mm was on the very low end, with 80mm being very common. A bit tighter brings in the glasses-wearers. As I recall, the author suggested a zoom lenses in the 60/80 to 200mm range as being a good "standard" lense to keep on the camera normally.

Anyway, it is a bit subjective, the looker tends to mask out any non-important details that become glaringly obvious in the actual photo. You know, like things growing out of people's heads, that sort of thing. Even serious pros make mistakes like that from time to time. :blush:
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:iconkaizokushojo:
KaizokuShojo Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012   Traditional Artist
My problem is not really knowing what button does what on my camera. :grump:
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Photographer
Lots of manuals and Youtube tutorials to help with that, just look up your camera model! :)
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:iconangelkitty17:
Angelkitty17 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
omg, I get that...
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:iconravenousdrake:
RavenousDrake Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Writer
This is awesome. Thanks so much for posting this! I think my biggest problem before was aperture. Now that's solved, and I didn't know about using the fluorescent or tungsten white balance settings. This will help me immensely. :highfive:
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Photographer
Happy to help! :) And of course, white balance can always be changed later if you shoot in RAW. I just prefer to get it looking as good as it can in camera =D
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:iconcuddlesdakat:
CuddlesDaKat Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Student General Artist
OTL When I first glanced at the title, I thought it was how to shoot lighting from your hands or something:iconderpplz:

Nice tutorial by the way!
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Photographer
LOL! Yeah, I'll work on that :XD:
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:iconanime-art-girl:
anime-art-girl Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Student Photographer
Just wanted to let you know, your art has been featured here: [link]
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Photographer
Thank you! :aww:
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:iconmuffinshy:
MuffinShy Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nice work there, always try to get a good shot of lightning, but oh so unlucky I am most of time. Living in middle of city doesn't help either :p
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Student Photographer
Yeah it's a lot tougher in the city. Not as much sky to work with :P
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:iconpugluvr:
pugluvr Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012
Nice tutorial! =D I'll give this a try next time there's lightning around.
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012  Student Photographer
Thanks! And best of luck =D
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:iconpugluvr:
pugluvr Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
I'll do what I can =D
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:iconhikarisoulmanga:
hikarisoulmanga Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
o A o; wow.. hope this will be one of our assignments in photography class. > ^ <

and hopefully.. you'll have a tutorial of exposing the stars.
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012  Student Photographer
Stars/star trails! That should be my next one *nod*
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:iconhikarisoulmanga:
hikarisoulmanga Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
yipee!!!!
Reply
:iconroseie:
roseie Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student General Artist
Wow that's a lot of work! O.O
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012  Student Photographer
Tried to make the tutorial as comprehensive as possible, since shooting lightning encompasses all sorts of different situations :)
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:iconroseie:
roseie Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Student General Artist
Lol. Yeah. Well, if I can understand it everyone can. Lol. XD
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:iconnight-angel:
night-angel Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Professional Filmographer
very interesting!
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
Thanks =D
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:iconana1129:
Ana1129 Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow............
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
:)
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:iconana1129:
Ana1129 Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I need a new camera. You ever heard of a nikon coolpix?
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012  Student Photographer
Yeah I have. I've never used a Nikon though lol
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:iconana1129:
Ana1129 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
haha I have a Nikon Colpix camera and it stopped charging after a few months of having it. The same thing happened to 2 of my friends.
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:iconkyphoscoliosis:
kyphoscoliosis Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012
Thanks so much for the tips! Some of the stuff I knew, but the more precision details were what I was looking for, and you were a big help on that. I'll have you to thank when I get better shots!
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
Haha no problem! Good luck with the shots, looking forward to it :)
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:iconzhaanman:
Zhaanman Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Brilliantly informational my friend I'm sure you've received many thanks for this in depth look into how its done I miss my Minolta sigh...
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
Yeah, this thing really took off faster than I expected :o So glad everyone seems to be getting some use out of it! =D
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:iconlektadea:
Lektadea Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012
I've always been thinking about this! :D in new orleans atm and theres thunderstorms every second week during summer! ;)
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
Yeah, in the south you've always got those slow convective storms going on =D We get more organized cells here, but they don't happen nearly as often :P
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:icontourofnature:
tourofnature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Excellent tutorial, just what I've been looking for. Thanks for putting this together.
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
My pleasure. Happy to help, and looking forward to your future work!
Reply
:iconkosoi:
Kosoi Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012
Great tutorial - wish i'd seen something like this sooner. First time I tried to shoot lightning, all shots were over/underexposed and blurred. I only figured out what to do by the time the storm was finished. Hope this helps lots of people, a good lighning shot is really satisfying ;)
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:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
Indeed, always satisfying to capture something that's never replicated again! :)
Reply
:iconpaintstrip:
PaintStrip Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012
omg thankyou this is much apreciated...i tried shooting some lightening with a mate of mine before..hes awesome at it..im just starting and he was too courght up i got one but very dull so thankyou and your photos are amazing
Reply
:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2012  Student Photographer
No problem! Happy to help :)
Reply
:iconccs1332:
ccs1332 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the great tutorial :D But problem is, I hardly see any lightning around here :\
Reply
:iconframedbynature:
FramedByNature Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2012  Student Photographer
No problem! I'm afraid I can't give you more storms, if I had that power I'd make some for myself right about now :XD:
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:iconccs1332:
ccs1332 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
LOL :D
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