Photography: Catching Lightning and Fireworks

Posted by on August 29, 2011

Lightning 2“How do you shoot lightning?” I get this question a lot, and it’s one of my favorite photography techniques. Lightning, much like fireworks, is a photo technique that confuses the average viewer. They think that I would actually have to catch lightning?! This is virtually impossible because light that emits from lightning lasts on average, 0.00004 seconds. The fact that we perceive the lightning for the length of a second is just an optic illusion caused by the reaction of the eye retina.

Actually, photographing lightning is just the opposite of what most people think, which is a shot using a long exposure. A long exposure means the shutter is open for a long period of time. For the photos of lightning posted on the website, I had the shutter open for a good 6 seconds while I prayed to the thunder gods in hopes of catching an amazing shot. With any long exposure shots, a tripod is a necessary to steady the shot. I also recommend a remote so the human element is totally removed from accidentally moving the camera. This technique is also used for blurs from cars and even waterfalls. So go outside, grab your glove and catch some lighting!