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How to Take the Extraordinary Lightning Photos

How to Take the Extraordinary Lightning Photos

Lightning is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena. It happens during rain or a thunderstorm. Even though it looks fabulous but actually it’s very dangerous. Temperature around lightning is 27,000 degrees Celsius which is six-time hotter than the surface of the sun and each bolt of lightning can contain up to one billion volts of electricity.

High speed photography of lightning is not an easy job, you don’t know when and where it’s going to strike and once it happened it gives you no time to press the shutter and click it but we have high speed camera trigger MIOPS Smart+, which can do this job for you and click at the right time.

Lightning photography sample photo

In this high speed photography tutorial, first, we’ll talk about how to use MIOPS to take photos of lightning and then we’ll learn how to make it extraordinary. This is the first article about high speed photography without flash.

How to Take the Extraordinary Lightning Photos - MIOPS

Okay, let’s talk about how to use MIOPS Smart+ for clicking the pictures of lightning. First, we need to find a location that has lots of open skies and have interesting foreground elements like high-rise buildings or mountains or trees that are forming beautiful shapes. Never take photos of only the sky with lightning, it won’t look interesting. Scout two three locations in advance and also keep an eye on the weather so you can be there well in time.

photo of lightning

Gear required:

First, you need a DSLR camera or any other camera that can be controlled remotely. For this photography, wide angle lens is recommended as it has a large field of view so you’ll never miss any chance to click lightning. A tripod is also must and make sure to have something to cover yourself as well as your camera and save it from the rain.

Camera and trigger settings:

Fix your camera on a tripod and set the frame, make sure you have interesting elements within your frame. Now focus on the foreground and take a shot which we will use later.

Now bring out MIOPS and attach it to your camera. Set the mode to “Lightning” and sensitivity about 95%. Set your camera on manual mode and set ISO to 200, aperture somewhere between f/8 – f/11 and shutter speed to 1/125. Here shutter speed doesn’t make any difference as the light strike for a very short burst of time. Don’t forget to change the focus to infinity.

photo of lightning city sky


Once everything is set up, start you MIOPS trigger and wait for the light to strike. As soon as it happened, your camera should take a picture. If it’s not happening, increase the sensitivity of trigger.

When your camera takes the first shot, check it and make changes in camera settings according to it. If it’s too dark, increase ISO or change the aperture to open wider. If it’s overexposed, decrease ISO or narrow the aperture. Changing shutter speed won’t make any difference. Make sure these shots have only lightning and rest should come totally dark.

Once you are satisfied with the exposure, leave the camera and let it take 10-12 shots. If you want to take more shots using different angle or with another foreground element, repeat the same process and take one base shot and 10-12 other shots.

shooting a lightning

Making your pictures extraordinary:

When you are back to home, it’s time to have a hot coffee. After coffee, download all the images in your computer and now we’ll merge these shots and make it extraordinary. We are going to use Photoshop® for this. If you don’t have Photoshop®, you can download a trial version from their site.

Open your base image (remember the first shot with foreground elements). Now open 5-6 lightning shots which you think are the best one. Select these shots, copy and paste on your base shot one by one.

Now you’ll have one file with one base layer and 5-6 other layers. Close all other files as we don’t require them now. Now look at your layer palette at the right side, you’ll find all the layers there. If it’s not there, click on Windows at the top menu and open it by clicking on Layers.

Now it’s time to hide all layers except the base one. Now select the layer that is just above the base layer and unhide it. Change its blending mode to “Lighten” and reduce its opacity between 50-70%. When you do this, only lighting will be visible and rest of the things will be hidden automatically. Repeat this process with all the layers and voila, you have an image with lots of lightning flashes and you must be thinking “Oh my God, it’s the same picture I saw on the internet and always wanted to shoot.”

Once you are satisfied with your picture, merge all the layers, and export your image. Now share it all over the internet and get ready to receive thousands of likes and comments, and don’t forget to share them here too.

multiple lightning shots merged into one

Related Article: 10 Things You Can Do with a Camera Trigger

 How to Take the Extraordinary Lightning Photos - MIOPS 

About the Author

Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.