Question about lightning photography

Posted by: Long Road Home

Question about lightning photography - 01/04/2018 13:02

Hi all, just got a new DSLR the other week so I'm new to the whole photography thing. Was wondering how one goes about getting the camera to focus if for example you're out at the beach trying to get some lightning shots with no other light source around. Tried doing some test shots in the dark but the cam keeps making a whizzing sound like it's trying to focus but never does. Even if you're in manual focus mode, it would be hard since you can't really see anything. Is there maybe a different method that people use? Any help is appreciated.

Happy easter
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 01/04/2018 18:06

A little bit of information in here
Posted by: Brett Guy

Re: Question about lightning photography - 01/04/2018 18:20

Best tip is if your lens does not have a focus scale is to focus on a distant subject like a light and then switch to manual focus so it doesn't hunt. If it does have a scale, go to manual, put the foucus to infinity and then just tweak it back a tiny notch. Generally your apature should be around f8, so depth of field will not be a problem if you have focused on a distant object
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 02/04/2018 03:00

When you say tweak it, you mean the circle you twist at the front of the lens that focuses? Sorry i'm just new to cam terminology and the focusing to infinity kinda confused me even after doing some research. Thanks Eddy

BTW, camera is a Canon 1300D
Posted by: Brett Guy

Re: Question about lightning photography - 02/04/2018 08:09

Sorry for not clarifying mate. Yes. If there is focus scale(what lens have you got), put it on manual then set it just a bit less than infinity. If you just have the kit lens it won't have a focus scale so that is where you need to put it in autofocus, focus on a distant light, then switch to manual so it won't change after that.
One other tip. Try you tube tutorials. They are very handy when you are starting out and you can be very specific. Type on 'lightning photography tips' and you will find heaps of good info
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 02/04/2018 14:06

Ah yes it's a Canon EOS 1300D Kit with 18-55 III and EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens. If the storm is further offshore I'm guessing i'd have to use the 300mm lens, but it doesn't have a scale on it.

Thanks, might check out some tutorials smile
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 02/04/2018 17:43

With a bit of luck, you should get a chance of shooting some storms tonight.
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 02/04/2018 23:40

You're both legends, it worked. Half the credit of this pic goes to you guys grin

Tonight's weakening storm cell that formed off Bondi/Coogee. Need to touch up on my editing skills now.

April2nd2018_Lightning_Sea
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 03/04/2018 00:35

PS forgot to mention: Settings used were, 25 sec shutter speed, f6.3 and ISO 100. Pity the lightning was really quick and didn't pulse so it didn't come out as bright as I'd liked, but still happy with that result, it came out in pretty good focus.
Posted by: Brett Guy

Re: Question about lightning photography - 03/04/2018 06:57

Nice stuff mate.
Posted by: ozone doug

Re: Question about lightning photography - 03/04/2018 12:48

Nice work long Road Home.
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 03/04/2018 17:49

Nicely done LRH.

What editing program are you using? And what setting was your white balance on?
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 04:01

I use Digital Photo Professional 4, which came with my Canon. I just downloaded it off their website as per instruction. Is there a better recommended software? Not really happy with this one because it goes a bit funny every time I change any setting.

Btw, I don't know what white balance is, am I doing something wrong with it?
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 04:49

I took this from manly wharf last night completely unedited, 0.5 sec shutter speed, f3.5 and ISO 800. Still came out blurry, I don't know how that's possible if i was only half a second shutter speed? Must be doing something wrong

IMG_1515
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 08:00

Hi LRH
There are a whole host of editing programs out there, Photoshop and Lightroom are probably the big two, I have both but I mainly use Lightroom as its much easier to use. Unfortunately these programs cost, you can get on a plan with ADOBE for around $10 a month, which is what I do.

As for white balance it gives the colour in your pictures, notice how there is a blue tinge in your first photo? All this can be fixed in editing, but if you set it right in camera, its one less job.

In your second picture, its probably more out of focus which in return gives that blurry look, although its not all that bad tbh.

I will type up another post later, where I will explain about back button focus, which will benefit you.

Cheers
Ed
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 16:11

Oh yeah, I made it more blue with the colour correction while editing. It just looked better as opposed to the original image which seemed a bit dull, at least to me anyway.

Thanks, might try a few programs. I also remember playing around with paintshop pro, but this was years ago.
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 19:00

When taking the shots are you using a shutter release cable?
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 19:07

Originally Posted By: EddyG
When taking the shots are you using a shutter release cable?


Nah I just set the timer to 2 secs to keep it as stable as possible. I'm thinking of getting one of those cables though, which one do I need to get exactly? Don't wanna get the wrong thing

PS: I've just found the white balance feature on the cam, guess I just gotta experiment with it and see which setting works best for which conditions.

Which white balance setting did you use for your offshore lightning pic in the other thread that you linked me to. The one where you had the shutter open for 87 secs? That one came out really good.
Posted by: Wave Rider

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 19:42

Great explanations guys, I am thinking of getting a DSLR in the near future but all the settings and options seem so complicated.
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 20:11

Originally Posted By: Long Road Home
Originally Posted By: EddyG
When taking the shots are you using a shutter release cable?


Nah I just set the timer to 2 secs to keep it as stable as possible. I'm thinking of getting one of those cables though, which one do I need to get exactly? Don't wanna get the wrong thing

PS: I've just found the white balance feature on the cam, guess I just gotta experiment with it and see which setting works best for which conditions.

Which white balance setting did you use for your offshore lightning pic in the other thread that you linked me to. The one where you had the shutter open for 87 secs? That one came out really good.


With the timer, sometimes you can still have camera shake after 2 seconds.

Yep experimenting is the key, its not like you will waste film!!
As for a shutter release cable, you can pay a fortune for one or you can buy a cheap one from a camera shop or the net for roughly $20.
I just have a cheap one, if I break it or lose it its no big deal.

As for the white balance in that pic you mention, I'm pretty sure it was AWB - auto white balance. I will check it out when I get a new computer.

And WR go for it, you can pick up a DSLR for under $500 these days. Canon 1300D a perfect entry level camera IMO and under that $500 mark.
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 20:31

I have been looking at the specifications of the 1300D, you don't really need a shutter release cable, you can pair it to your smartphone and control it from your phone!!
Posted by: Brett Guy

Re: Question about lightning photography - 04/04/2018 20:41

Hey mate. Are you shooting in RAW or JPEG. IF you are happy to do editing(DPP is a good starter program but you will want to step up eventually) then it is far better to shoot in RAW as it gives you more latitude to process your shot.
Posted by: Long Road Home

Re: Question about lightning photography - 05/04/2018 01:28

Interesting EddyG, will have to read through my manual to see how that's done.

And Brett, I shoot in RAW and edit those. However I don't really see the difference between JPEG and RAW, it all looks the same to me laugh
Posted by: Brett Guy

Re: Question about lightning photography - 05/04/2018 06:58

Good trick LRH is to take the same photo twice. Once in RAW and once in JPEG. Edit both of them really hard(lift the shadows, drop the highlights, Raise the exposure etc) and you will see that the RAW can go much further than the JPEG. It is interesting to see the difference but also good to know how far you can go with one or for other for future reference
Posted by: Wave Rider

Re: Question about lightning photography - 05/04/2018 08:30

Originally Posted By: EddyG

And WR go for it, you can pick up a DSLR for under $500 these days. Canon 1300D a perfect entry level camera IMO and under that $500 mark.


Thanks Eddy I'll check that one out.
Posted by: Steve777

Re: Question about lightning photography - 05/04/2018 15:31

I don't have any fancy equipment, just a small digital camera and an iPhone. I have taken short videos of a stormy sky hoping that lightning happens in the right direction when filming. A few times I've got lucky. I load the video up into my iCloud (via Dropbox) and isolate the fames. You can do this when playing it in Quick Time (see view video frame by frame) and take a screen shot.

Nothing like the quality I've seen posted here but in a lightning-active storm you can get some reasonable shots.
Posted by: EddyG

Re: Question about lightning photography - 07/04/2018 11:48

Interesting Steve777, I will check it out once I get my new computer.

I have a Miops lightning trigger, its been relatively successful too. But there has been one major problem, stuff all storms!!