Here is a quick post of some lightning shots I took tonight during our seasonal monsoon storms in Arizona. While Sierra Vista lacks the bigger cityscape’s such as Tucson or Phoenix that frames lighting shots nicely for dramatic vies, we do have mountains near by that offer a decent scene. Our monsoon season has officially been underway for a couple weeks now, I waited patiently for an active light show and tonight didn’t disappoint.
To capture lightning is not that much different than what you would do with fireworks, you’ll need a camera with a “bulb” setting that allows you to hold your shutter open for long periods, you need a sturdy tripod and a remote shutter release cable. You should bring something to protect your camera from getting wet and if you have sand bags or something to weight your tripod down bring it just in case. Batteries, don’t forget to bring fully charged batteries, holding your shutter open for long periods of time will drain your batteries quickly.
To give you an idea of the rhythm of the storm, count the length of time between lightning events (strikes) say for example you have events 30 seconds apart, open your shutter on the 20th second and open your shutter. It is hit and miss sometimes and your throw rate will be high so don’t worry about the ones that get away, they’ll be back. I recommend holding your shutter open longer to get a good sequence of action, sometimes it could be less than 10 seconds but don’t be afraid to keep it open for longer than a minute if need be. Your card may buffer for a bit and not allow you to begin your next image, patience and don’t get frustrated if you miss an event.
The biggest thing is have fun and be as safe as you can be, to shoot lightning does have a danger element to it…. try to stay in front of the storm or just behind it, if it’s on top of you you’ll not only get you and your gear wet but you won’t get the shot you are after and you’ll run a higher risk of getting lit up like a Christmas tree.
As the Monsoon season rolls on, I hope to capture some more and I’ll post more if I get some good ones or learn something new.
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