When Lightning Strikes

Capturing a lightning strike is not as difficult as one thinks. You just need patience and perseverence – lots of it!

Capturing a great lightning strike is however a little more tricky, you need to have the right storm, with the right background and need to have the shutter open at the right place at the right time. I am still waiting to capture my “great strike” but for now I am happy with the one I captured from the last lightning storm that hit Dubai.

I think lightning is a thing of beauty, a display that mother nature puts on for us to admire, as long as its far enough away and I am in no danger, I will be out to watch (and trying to capture a good shot of course).

I played around with different settings to try and get this shot – but found that leaving the shutter open for too long (15 – 20 seconds) would take in too much light and the lightning strike would not be visible enough in the shot. This isnt always the case as I have seen some great photos of lightning taken with a shutter open of around 25 seconds but in my case, it just did not work.

I had the camera on a tripod which is essential for any night or long exposure photography, shutter priority mode, ISO set to 100, exposure set to 5 seconds which gave an aperture of F4.5.  The shot was taken with a Nikon D800 camera with a Zeiss 21mm lens.

It took me just over 130 shots to get this particular one which I was “sort of” happy with but carried on taking over 200 shots trying to get a better strike which did not happen. I wanted the buildings as the backdrop but the storm started moving away which would have forced me to change the background, so I called it a night and went inside for a hot chocolate instead.

The shot you see is one shot but I do think that perhaps taking multiple shots and stacking them might produce an impressive picture – I think I will try that next time and see what happens.




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