Lightning

It has been a veeeerrryyyy loong time since my last post, and for that I truly apologise – thanks for waiting and for coming back to see our latest adventures 🙂

It has been crazy busy at work after two of my team resigned, and the wedding calendar is slowly filling up, so Sian and I are working very late into the night most of the time trying to get things sorted…the blog has naturally suffered – as has my photography….I havent been out shooting anything *Shock horror* !

But I am in the process of trying to get my head around a ‘how to page’, which I hope to post more technical stuff about the whats and whys of my photography, and free up the blog for more ramblings and updates from us here in (sometimes) sunny Barbados.

But it is late, and I am tired, and I will have to work that out later…so in the mean time, here is my first ‘ how to blog’.  I hope it is not too boring for all you lovely, non-photography types!

How to take photos of lightning

The weather here in Bim is truly awful at the moment.  We keep getting torrential downpours, followed by searing heat, which makes it utterly unbearable on the muginess side of things, and then perilous on the roads as we aqua plane to where we need to be.  And the very worst part of it is that we get electrical storms, but the clouds and haze are so thick, we rarely actually see any bolts of lightning…which makes for crap photos as I have discovered.

So, in light of a lack of er…lightning, I rooted around the old hard drive and sniffed these bad boys out:

For some reason WordPress has sharpened the buggery out of this on the thumbnail…but, like I say, it’s late and I can’t figure it out – please enlarge the photo by clicking on it to get rid of the early 90s digital-noise-look.

This was taken off the back of the Thomson Celebration when we were sailing to Port Sokhna out in the Red Sea.   I was accompanied by my good friend Josh who taught me this technique – so all credit must go to him.  He is a savagely talented photographer and is living the dream back in Manchester as a freelancer.  If you’re getting married any time soon in the UK, book him before he gets (deservedly) expensive!

Anyways, back to the lesson.  All you really need to get dramatic shots like this one is a little patience and a tripod.  If you don’t have either of these, then I’m afraid you will just have to remember the storm as you see it with the two eyes God gave you.  If you do, it’s time to have some fun.

The first problem you are likely to encounter when shooting lightning is that your camera won’t be able to focus properly.  It is usually very dark when a storm’s a brewing, and so there is little if nothing for your camera to focus on.  You’re best off switching to manual focus for this.  You are going to be shooting quite narrow as well (About F11ish) to make sure that all of your lightning stays sharp, regardless of how close or far away it is from the point of focus.

So, once you have set your focus up, as stated, I would shoot narrow, with quite a high ISO.  These were shot at 640 with the fabled D80 – which is as high as I dared go with old faithful.

Then, all you do is switch your shutter onto bulb mode.

It’s so easy even a photographer can do it.

Bulb mode means that your camera shutter will stay open for as long as you hold the button down, so all you do is hold it down, watch a few flashes…and presto:

This shot was taken over several minutes – each flash of lightning is frozen in the frame, giving the illusion that all of these bolts came at the same time – but they were actually very far apart.

And there you have it.  Once you are happy that you have recorded enough flashes, let go of the shutter button and wait for your camera to process the exposure (this took FOREVER on the D80!). But obviously, if you do not have a bulb mode, you can try your luck with a nice slow shutter speed – the longer you can leave your mirror up the better chance you have of catching that massive flash!

Hope that this has been helpful, and looking forward to sharing some more stories from the Caribbean soon.

Thanks for reading

Ferg x

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