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08-21-2009, 08:41 PM   #1
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issues shooting lightning

So about a month ago I got lucky and got some terrific shots of lightning. Turns out it was just luck.

Tonight I was expecting to get some great ones and the lightning flashed again and again and again....

They were all blurry. I was totally out of focus. How do you focus at night when you can't see anything???

Secondly, in most cases despite wonderously bright flashes I didn't see much of anything on the viewfinder. Yet, it turned out when uploading them that many of these basically black shots had great lightning when viewed on my PC.

Alas.. They were all blurry ....

Some advice on settings and technique please?

Thanks,

Javaslinger

08-21-2009, 08:54 PM   #2
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There is no way you can autofocus in this condition. You will need to manual focus for this. Just manually set your focus and wait for the lightning to hit then shoot it.
08-21-2009, 09:02 PM   #3
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I was trying to manually focus. But I couldn't see a think well enough to focus. I could have possibly focused on something close, but not something at a distance.
08-21-2009, 09:25 PM   #4
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Hmm I have same problem as you then man, can't really see in the dark well enough through the viewfinder to focus manually. Seems like we are out of luck since flashlight doesn't go that far, lol.

Practice practice I guess, maybe can try practicing manual focusing at night on cars or something.

08-21-2009, 09:32 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Javaslinger Quote
I was trying to manually focus. But I couldn't see a think well enough to focus. I could have possibly focused on something close, but not something at a distance.
Did you try setting the focus to infinity?
What aperture and length of exposure were you using?
08-21-2009, 10:29 PM   #6
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Set the focus to infinity and the aperture to f/8.
08-22-2009, 08:22 AM   #7
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Then boost the ISO a little to ensure the lightning strikes register clearly on your images.
08-22-2009, 01:13 PM   #8
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Setting the kit lens (if that is what you used) to infinity will result in OOF images.
Practice in daylight and get a "feel" for the lens in manually focusing it close to infinity.
I normally get good results by focusing around green line, turning focus all the way to red puts the lens beyond infinity.

Cheers. Mike.


Last edited by Ex Finn.; 11-11-2014 at 05:51 PM.
08-22-2009, 01:57 PM   #9
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Settings depend on ambient light, how heavy the rain is and the strength of lightning bolts.
I have used everything from ISO 200 to 1600. F 5.6 and bigger aperture, 10 to 20 second, no 2 second mirror up.
Have fun, stay safe and dry and post some pictures.

Cheers. Mike.
08-27-2009, 02:05 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ex Finn. Quote
Setting the kit lens (if that is what you used) to infinity will result in OOF images.
Practice in daylight and get a "feel" for the lens in manually focusing it close to infinity.
I normally get good results by focusing around green line, turning focus all the way to red puts the lens beyond infinity.

Cheers. Mike.
It seems that a lot of automatic lenses have some focus beyond infinity. As you state, it is best to go around that green line or a little closer since the depth of field is likely to be such that you are beyond the hyperfocal distance and everything to infinity should be in focus (which is where the lightning should typically be).
08-27-2009, 03:49 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by emalvick Quote
(which is where the lightning should typically be).
If it's not, you're probably dead anyway.
08-27-2009, 06:45 PM   #12
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My lightning photo set up as follows; K10 seems to work best for me. Tripod set up usually shooting from inside house. Much safer that way. Af. off, Bulb mode remote cable shutter release, ISO 100-400, f8/16,18-55mm set at 18, focus at green line (inf). Press and hold shutter release button for 15-20 seconds then release. Repeat until you actually catch a bolt, you can spend a lot of time and shutter actuations to get a few keeper shots this way. Still the best way to acomplish lightening photos at night. Daytime same basic setup applies but you need a polarisor filter to cut down on the light. jim
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