Electrifying Night in Kennesaw, GA - How to Photograph Lightning

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Real Estate Agent with Georgia Elite Realty

Electrifying Night in Kennesaw, GA - How to Photograph Lightning

Lightning Storm 1

One of the benefits of lugging my camera gear around with me most places I go is when an photo opportunity presents itself, I'm ready to capture it.  On June 22, 2010 a pretty nasty (albeit spectacular) lightning storm rolled through Kennesaw, GA.  The storm at one point was directly over our office building and while I do not recommend going outside and taking pictures under these circumstances, I couldn't resist.  Capturing pictures of lightning like this has a lot to do with luck.  Typically the show lasts for a fraction of a second, so waiting until you see one pop and trying to react fast enough isn't really an option. 

Here's how I got these pictures.  First, you will need a good camera, a wide-angle lens and a tripod (something an interior photographer should already have).  When I say good, what I really mean is a camera that has a manual mode and the ability to do long exposures.  Set the camera up on the tripod and adjust the focal length of the wide angle lens until you have a good composition with plenty of sky.  Second, you will need to dial in a few settings.  For this these photos, I set the ISO to 400, The aperture to f11.0 and adjusted the shutter speed until about 6 secs indicated a correct exposure (metered off the sunset area).  From this point, simply trigger the shutter to open and wait.  If you are lucky, you will get a nice big bolt of lightning somewhere in the 5 seconds the shutter is open.  Rinse and repeat.

Lightning Storm 2

So with this approach, we still get a good exposure of some of the other interesting elements in the composition (like the sunset and starburst from the lights) and if we are lucky to get the lightning, it happens so fast that it does not mess with the overall exposure.  If your camera allows you to bracket exposures, you can also set it up to take three pictures back-to-back with exposures that are within a stop or so of the original (which is easy to correct later if the picture is a little too dark or too bright).  This technique essentially gives you about 10-15 secs at a time of the camera ready to capture the action.  

Oh, and my disclaimer: *DO NOT GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE PICTURES IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORM.  ONLY CRAZY PEOPLE DO THIS...

Have fun and BE SAFE!

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Tips and Techniques for Better Real Estate Photography
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Steve Hoffacker
Steve Hoffacker LLC - West Palm Beach, FL
Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor

Iran,

Thanks for the tips and the great shots. Hadn't thought about letting the lightning come to the exposure. :)

Steve

Jun 24, 2010 03:19 PM #1
Rainmaker
221,358
Richard Strahm
American Foursquare Realty - Lansdale, PA
Lansdale and North Penn Real Estate

Beautiful pictures.  I'm usually in areas that are too built up when a storm hits to get the nice vistas you did.  But I do want to try your technique some day.

Jun 26, 2010 01:03 AM #2
Rainer
104,911
Don Stern
Realty Executives South Louisiana - Baton Rouge, LA
Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate

Looks like the lightening cooperated with you at least twice.  Great pics and tips.  Thanks for sharing

Jun 28, 2010 07:02 AM #3
Rainmaker
78,371
Glenda Cherry
Keller Williams Realty - Herndon, VA
Realtor / Photographer

Gorgeous photos, Iran!  Oddly enough, I have a client who is moving to Kennesaw in the next few months.  Unfortunately, she already has a home waiting for her there ... but if she ever needs an agent, you're my go-to guy!

Jun 29, 2010 02:53 PM #4
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Iran Watson

Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer
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