Lightning Over Salt Lake

 

I have wanted to get a shot like this for some time.  It seemed every time I tried I was too late, or in the wrong spot.  A few Sunday’s ago the west sky was full of lightning and I knew it was the perfect time for some shots.  I wanted to add more elements to the scene instead of just taking a picture of lightning so I went to a viewpoint I had scoped out some time before and composed as best I could for the unpredictable lightning.  It may seem daunting at first, but capturing lightning is actually pretty easy once you know how.  So I put together some tips below.
Capturing Lightning:
    1. Use a Tripod.  This is a must for the length of time the shutter will be open.  To reduce any movement during the long shutter speed here are some other tips you should keep in mind*:
      1. Turn off IS (Image Stabilization).  If you have your camera on a tripod it is still going to try to compensate for hand holding and make your image a little blurry.
      2. Enable Mirror Lock on your camera.  Read the manual or search in your menu to find this.  One shutter click flips the mirror up inside the camera before taking the shot and a second shutter click will take the shot. 
      3. Use a Shutter Release Cable.  Touching the camera will produce camera shake.
      4. Use a low ISO.
    2. Use a longer shutter speed.  Lightning comes and goes quickly, so make it easy on yourself, use a slow shutter speed and any time lightning strikes while your shutter is open (say during a 15 second stretch like the photo above) will show up on the sensor, and on your photo.
    3. Find an interesting foreground/subject and work with the lightning around it.  It’s just a shot of lightning if there is nothing else interesting in the photo.
    4. Take lots and lots of shots.  You’re not going to get it the first time.  Keep at it.  Find the best (safest) place and shoot away!
*These tips should be practiced any time you use a tripod.  

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