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Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo: Catatumbo Lightning

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo: Catatumbo Lightning

Beginner and professional photographers who have developed a deep fascination for lightning photography understand the joys and struggles of conquering this thrilling yet challenging genre. Taking a great picture of a lightning strike is an accomplishment for any photographer, and Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela offers one of the most extraordinary locations for lightning photography.

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Why do photographers love photographing lightning?

Lightning is an unpredictable subject and its unpredictability provides opportunities to capture unique images. However, the same uncertainty also presents obstacles that can only be overcome with preparation, having the right camera equipment, and most importantly, luck. 

Most importantly, lightning photographers have to find the perfect locations where they can discover lightning events for great photo opportunities. Identifying these places require good research and patience. Chasing these lightning storms also needs careful planning and attention to weather reports and the know-how to read storm maps and other lightning guide maps. 

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo

Luckily for photographers living or vacationing in Venezuela, they know exactly where to go: Lake Maracaibo. 

Venezuelan photographers and even international adventure photographers who know very well about Venezuela’s lightning storms are probably some of the luckiest lightning photographers out there!

Why is Lake Maracaibo a favorite setting for lightning photographers?

Located in the northwestern part of Venezuela, Lake Maracaibo is one of the city’s most important seaports. Its nearby metropolitan area is occupied by over 3,7000 million inhabitants. 

While the region has a lot to offer in terms of culture and traditions, its main attraction is actually one of the most unique in the world: its weather. 

Maracaibo is most popular for its lightning thunderstorms. Its nighttime thunderstorms offer a spectacular view, with 28 lightning strikes per minute, and 230 lightning strikes painting the night sky every 0.3 square miles, for 160 storm nights a year! In fact, the lightning hotspot is a Guinness World Record holder as the Lightning Capital of the World for the highest concentration of lightning strikes. 

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo

Lake Maracaibo Catatumbo lightning photography experts and enthusiasts are witnesses to the region’s perpetual lightning displays. While the view is a source of wonder and mystery for some, there is a scientific explanation for this nightly event.

How are bolts of lightning created in Maracaibo?

According to meteorologists, these exhibitions of lights are only possible because of the region’s unique geography in combination with its climate. Additionally, these displays only form at night because of the drop in temperature.  

When the cool air from the nearby Andes Mountain meets Maracaibo Lake’s warm and moist air accumulated during the day, the clash in temperature triggers the formation of lightning strikes and electrical discharges. 

The lightning display is so outstanding and constant that sailors from as far back as 1826 have used the location to navigate the seas. It is so popular that it even got special titles, such as “The Lighthouse,” “The Beacon of Maracaibo,” and “The Everlasting Storm.” 

The center of this magical light show is where Lake Maracaibo meets the Catatumbo River. This river is a favorite lightning photography spot and Catatumbo River Lightning images are some of the most popular and unique ones among the high-speed photography community.

What makes Catatumbo lightning different from other lightning events?

So what’s the big deal? Why are lightning images from Maracaibo and its neighbor river Catatumbo so different from other lightning photos taken in other locations? Make makes the Catatumbo lightning special? Why should photographing these lightning strikes be on your bucket list as a photographer?

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo 

For one, how these lightning strikes are created seems to be caused by a grand, pre-determined design. The factors are perfectly placed as if they were meant to be there. But we know how unpredictable nature is that there’s a one-in-a-million chance that the same thing can happen in other parts of the world. 

There are several factors that make these mesmerizing events take place in Catatumbo and Maracaibo. These include the local climate and the season, geographical and topographical characteristics of the region, and lastly, the levels of moisture and air in the area. 

1.  Local Climate and Seasonal Change

During the long summer days, the heat of the sun allows the water from the lake to evaporate. This moisture is boosted by the Caribbean sea’s eternally warm waters. Just the presence of moisture in the air triggers constant storms around the area.

2.  Geographic and Topographic Features

As mentioned earlier, the nearby Anders Mountain Range contributes to the unique formation of lighting above Catatumbo and Maracaibo. The mountain range runs across the river and covers three sides of the lake. This setup restricts the warm air from escaping northwards. 

3.  Imbalances of Cool Air and Warm Moisture

Then, the cool air from these ridges, especially at night when the temperature drops even lower, is blown to meet the rising warm air. This clash forms a dance that allows a beautiful formation of cumulonimbus clouds that will eventually serve as the birthplace of the much-awaited evening spectacle. 

The resulting storm cloud forms a thick and towering structure of air and moisture in the sky, providing an ideal venue for lightning formation. The imbalance of hot air and cold air, in the form of colliding warm water droplets and ice crystals, finally creates static charges. 

These static charges are so strong that they have enough power to light up hundreds of millions of lightbulbs. The same power fuels the seemingly perpetual lightning display that made this location so famous all over the world. 

Remember that these factors are so specific that these conditions are only met during specific months of the year. This leads us to the next question:

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo

When is the best time to photograph lightning in Catatumbo and Maracaibo?

According to meteorologists and experienced lightning photographers who successfully made the journey to the region, the best time to visit the location is during Venezuela’s wet season, from April to November, lasting for 140 to 160 nights annually. However, locals suggest that the best month is October. 

October is the best month to visit Catatumbo since it is when the region produces the highest concentrations and frequencies of lightning. According to records, you can observe 28 lightning events per minute during the same month.

How can MIOPS Smart+ help you capture the best photos of the Maracaibo and Catatumbo lightning strikes?

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The MIOPS is a great camera trigger for both beginner and professional photographers. Smart devices add much more value to the user experience, enabling automation of detailed processes and freeing you to focus on the creative aspects of your shoot. The MIOPS Smart+ camera trigger is controlled with a user interface and has a variety of modes.

The Lightning Mode uses a light sensor to detect split-second lightning strikes and trigger the shutter automatically, so there’s no need to rely on luck for a perfectly timed shot. Using the intuitive dedicated app, you can control the MIOPS Smart+ settings from a safe distance and easily make adjustments to the light sensor’s sensitivity.

How Does MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger Work as Remote Trigger for Lightning Photography?

Like other smart connected devices, the MIOPS Smart+ can be controlled remotely via Bluetooth. Although the MIOPS Smart+ can also be operated as a standalone device, the MIOPS mobile app will allow you to configure your camera’s ISO, exposure value, and aperture. After reviewing each image, making adjustments to your camera settings will be quick and easy!

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo

What are the Camera Settings for Lightning Photography?

Typically, the best camera setting to use when photographing lightning is to shoot through Manual Mode. As mentioned earlier, you can use a lightning camera trigger like MIOPS Smart+ on cameras with a manual mode, so you can easily adjust your main camera settings. 

There are no fixed camera settings for events as unpredictable as lightning strikes, so make sure you know your camera well. Knowing your photography basics can help you make the right adjustments that fit your subject, background, foreground, and overall location. Trust your experience!

1.  ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed

For capturing lightning photos, start with an aperture of f/5.6 and an ISO of 100. Since you’re using a remote trigger to activate your camera’s shutter, you don’t have to worry about adjusting your shutter speed. 

Your camera settings when taking photos of lightning should depend on the available light source in the area. Remember that you are photographing the Venezuela lightning storms in Maracaibo and Catatumbo. The lightning events are consistent and endless! It means that the night sky will be as bright as day. This can present a challenge. 

When photographing lightning strikes in Lake Maracaibo and Catatumbo River, expect an extremely bright night sky. Your ISO and aperture should be adjusted to let in just enough light to capture the lightning strikes but should have the right value to not overexpose the shot. 

2.  Remote Trigger Automatic Camera Settings

However, if you’re using MIOPS Smart+ camera trigger, you don’t have to worry about starting from scratch. You don’t also have to rely on a trial-and-error method just to get the settings right. MIOPS’ intuitive sensors can help you.

 The remote camera trigger, through the MIOPS Smart+ mobile application, automatically suggests and adjusts your camera’s aperture, ISO, and exposure values, on top of other necessary settings to capture lightning events as specific as Catatumbo lightning strikes.

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo

3.  Composition and Framing

The shutter speed should also be fast enough to capture the lightning strikes that you can focus on. While you have an infinite number of chances to capture lightning photos, don’t just point your camera everywhere! 

Study the photo opportunities in front of you and find a good way to compose your shot. Add context and don’t just focus on the streaks of light. Add a portion of the storm clouds as the lightning’s point of origin. Include an area where the river or the lake meets the strike. 

How Can You Prepare for a Lightning Photo Shoot Catatumbo Lightning in Venezuela?

Just like any other lightning photography session, you have to make the necessary preparations, especially if you’re going to a location known for its extreme lightning events. Typical lightning storms are dangerous enough, so imagine the level of risks that you might face in the world-famous lightning capital. 

If you want to have the best time and capture the best lightning photos, you have to fully prepare. So what are the things that you need to do before setting out on a journey to the great Catatumbo and Maracaibo? 

Here is a three-point list that might help you get ready.

1. Plan and research the setting and weather.

Whether you’re coming from Venezuela or another part of the world, you have to carefully plan your trip to the tiniest details. The most important part, of course, is to read everything you can about the country, and most specifically, Catatumbo and Maracaibo. 

Aside from planning the trip according to the months we suggested earlier, which is from April to November, know the logistics of the trip. From transportation, accommodation, and how to get there, to local ordinances and environmental rules that you must adhere to, make sure to check them out before booking your flight.

2.  Ask the right questions from the right people.

One of the best pieces of advice that you can get from professional photographers is this: ask questions. Not just any question, though - ask the right questions. Additionally, make sure that you’re asking the right people. 

Ask photographers who have already been to the region. They might have some pro tips that can make things easier even for beginners. 

You can also go to online forums where you can find questions and answers to the most specific questions about Catatumbo lightning photography. 

You can also rely on books and news articles that talk about the region.

Lightning Photography in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo

3.  Complete your camera equipment.

Earlier, we discussed the needed camera settings and camera accessories, like a remote camera trigger that you need to photograph lightning. 

Aside from these essentials, make sure you have a trusty tripod with you, extra batteries in case you’ll be outdoors for hours, a zoom lens and other applicable lenses, and most importantly, weather-proofing equipment to protect your camera gear.

Having reliable camera equipment and extras will help you have the time and resources to make your trip a success. Faulty equipment and low-quality gears can restrict and limit your chances of getting that once-in-a-lifetime and award-winning image. 

With your complete camera equipment and MIOPS Smart+ camera trigger’s smart and intuitive technology, trust that your preparation and everything you’ve been through to get to this record-breaking lightning hotspot will be all worth it.

Good luck and have fun!

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Blog Credit: Charm Villalon

Charm is a writer and a visual artist. Her drive to share ideas and stories is evident in her background in communication arts and language studies. Years of professional experience in content creation have given her a broad proficiency with the process of engaging online communities. An appreciation for multiple languages and cultures drives her to seek out experiences and capture these moments through her writing, digital art, and photography.

How to Photographing Lightning

How to Photographing Lightning

Chasing Thunderstorms and Photographing Lightning

Photographing lightning can be one of the most unpredictable yet also one of the most rewarding photographic endeavors. The effect that a lightning flash makes on a photograph definitely leaves a highly electrifying impact (pun intended). When and where lightning will exactly strike is almost impossible to predict but through patterns of occurrence, lightning density trends, and the general weather forecast, there are various ways through which you can increase your chances of being able to photograph lightning. In this article, let’s talk about some of the best points for lightning photography.

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Chasing Thunderstorms and Photographing Lightning

How and Where

A lightning pulse is a result of charge differences between one surface and another. Lightning can happen from one cloud to another or from one cloud to the ground. This happens when particles within the clouds move and collide with each other at a rapid rate which results in an electric gradient against another cloud or the ground. As this difference in charge builds up, the potential increases as the system seeks to neutralize this difference. The air between the two opposing sides act as an insulator until the insulating capacity breaks and a rapid discharge of electricity occurs to transfer the energy and reach electrical equilibrium.

How Lightning Happens

*Prepare for Lightning, https://www.wunderground.com/prepare/lightning

Lightning and thunderstorms can happen anywhere however there are particular regions have them more common and can be considered the best lighting photography places. Lightning happens commonly when there is unstable atmosphere, moisture, and abundance of warmth on the ground. This is why generally more tropical regions commonly get more thunderstorms. In the United States, Texas leads with the most number of lightning pulses in the year 2020 and various years before that, but Florida leads with a higher percentage of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes probably because of its more humid tropical climate. In Australia, the Western Top End and North Kimberly regions have shown to be more active when it comes to thunderstorms and lightning which makes these areas the best lightning photography places.

Where Lightning Happens

*2021 U.S. Lightning Report Recording, https://www.earthnetworks.com/

Spring and summer are generally considered lightning season for lightning photography as the frequency of thunderstorms happen more during these times. Autumn and winter generally get less but it is not impossible to happen. All these data and trends can be of help when preparing to photograph lightning.

Chasing the Storm 

Being successful in doing lightning photography means being at the right place at the right time and also not being at the wrong place at the right time. Planning is the most crucial part of this creative process because lightning can be so elusive to photograph and you can never be caught wasting time and making mistakes. It’s not everyday that lightning happens in multiple continuous pulses generally happening in the same area enough for you to adjust to it. This is why finding the best points for lightning photography right as the storm starts is your biggest priority. 

Chasing the Storm Lightning Photography

To find the spots where it will happen, there are various websites and apps that have real-time lightning and thunderstorm tracking that can guide you in finding an advantageous and safe vantage point to photograph the storm. These are apps such as Spark, Blitzortung Lightning Monitor, and My Lightning Tracker and websites such as LightningMaps.org and EarthNetworks.com. By using this information you can find a spot to shoot and even find foreground  elements advantageous for your composition. Lightning tends to hit taller structures so being able to keep skyscrapers (in the city) and trees (in open areas) within the frame increases your chances of being able to capture the lightning strike. However it is important also to consider that you should have significant distance from such to ensure your safety. 

Lightning Photography Nicco Valenzuela

Camera Settings for Lightning Photography 

Photographing lightning requires a few considerations about the scenario to be able to determine the right camera settings. While it is possible to photograph lightning during the day, it is obviously more visible when the sky behind it is relatively dark. Much of the impact that photographs of lightning make comes from how it illuminates the clouds surrounding it especially when the lightning pulse goes from a cloud to another cloud. Taking photographs of lightning is best done at night and during twilight when the sky is dark enough for the lightning strike to stand out. 

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Since you will be working with a relatively dim environment, it is necessary to shoot relatively long exposures and this will also be generally beneficial in increasing your chances of capturing the split-second lightning strikes. However, it is important to also limit the length of the exposure to make sure that the strikes are visible. Given those considerations, it is best to take 6-10 second exposures that will help you capture any and all lightning strikes that will happen within that period. At the same time, the exposure won’t be too long that the luminosity of other elements in frame will cancel out the bright but brief flash of light. To be able to do this, it is imperative to use a relatively small aperture such as f/8 or f/11 to prevent getting blown out exposures and at the same time ensure that both the sky and the ground elements are in-focus and clear. ISO can be relatively flexible but the goal is to keep it at a minimum since the flash of light from the lightning strike is much brighter than the luminosity of the scenario when there are is no lightning.

Camera Settings for Lightning Photography

Essential Camera Gear for Lightning Photography 

The camera gear and support gear to be used in photographing lightning play a key role in the success of the endeavor. Since this involves catching and photographing an elusive phenomenon that only happens in fractions of a second, it is important that the gear being used is reliable and can very well adapt to the situation. 

Cameras with high resolution sensors and good low light performance offer a certain advantage especially if the goal is to produce large prints or if there is a need for significant cropping. However the more crucial aspect about the camera of choice is the availability of manual controls. It is important for the photographer to be able to set the exposure settings with a certain level of precision to be able to capture the scene better. The choice of lenses depend entirely on the distance of the photographer from the storm which means that shooting from within the area requires a wider lens, and shooting the storm from afar necessitates a telephoto lens. The goal is to fill the frame with the lightning and the ground elements to be able to give it the emphasis and attention that it deserves. 

Shooting A Storm-lapse

Since shooting involves long exposures, stable support gear are an absolute requirement. The choice of tripod should focus on one that is stable and can keep the camera still even with a bit of wind that usually comes with the storm. Both the gear and the tripod should also be able to withstand a bit of rain since precipitation commonly accompanies thunderstorms. Heavier downpours will either require a rain cover, that is if the rain does not hinder visibility of the clouds and of the lightning strikes. 

To make the process much easier and automated, a dedicated lightning photography trigger makes all the difference.

Using A Lightning Photography Trigger 

Lightning photography triggers make the process of shooting automated. There are various approaches to photographing lightning and the most basic one is doing so manually while hoping that lightning happens within the exposure time. Another way is to use an intervalometer to keep the camera shooting consecutive exposures whether or not lightning happens. 

Lightning Photography by MIOPS Smart Trigger

*Instagram: @baseballsizedhail

Using a smart camera remote trigger like the MIOPS Smart+ gives you the automation of a lightning trigger and many more. The Smart+ can be used for long exposures, time-lapse, HDR, special effects, star trails, and night photography in general. For photographing lightning, the MIOPS Smart+ is equipped with a light sensor that scans the scene for flashes of light that typically happens during a lightning strike. You can set the threshold level of sensitivity depending on the intensity of lightning flashes that you want to capture. When the sensor detects a sudden flash of light that is enough to hit the threshold, it triggers the camera to start an exposure. This way your camera is not simply shooting blindly and wasting exposures on shots wherein no lightning happened but instead giving you only photos wherein lightning actually struck. This doesn’t only automate the process of photographing lightning but also helps lessen the number of shots wasted while waiting for something spectacular. 

Shooting A Storm-lapse 

To better capture how the thunderstorm starts and progresses, shooting a time-lapse is a great option. Since doing interval shooting is one approach to shooting lightning, it requires exactly the same process to produce a time-lapse. Capturing consecutive exposures and compiling them into a video clip allows you to compress the time into a video clip that shows the changes in the environment that would otherwise be too slow to appreciate in real time. If the frequency of lightning pulses is significantly high, the option of using Storm-lapse mode on the Smart+ combines the automation of using the lightning sensor as the camera trigger and the process of producing consecutive exposures together that gives you a collection only of photos wherein lightning struck that can either be used as individual stills, combined into a more encompassing multiple exposure composite image, or to produce a highly dynamic time-lapse sequence of the thunderstorm. 

Photographing lightning is a combination of luck, good planning, and preparation. The creative process can be quite a gamble given all the uncertainties surrounding the environment as well as the physical risk of being out during a storm, but when done successfully and with artistic intent, it can result to some of the most impactful and dynamic outdoor photographs that you will ever take. 

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Blog Credit: Nicco Valenzuela

Nicco started his photographic journey in 2007 practicing the craft as a hobby. Currently, he shoots for various local and international architectural firms and construction companies. Out of his love for sharing his knowledge, Nicco began writing about photography and various pieces of gear.

Lightning Photography Tips and Unique Lightning Photo Compositions

Lightnin Photography Tips

Nature offers the most fascinating sights and sounds that only true observers can appreciate. Photographers know this too well so they venture into the outdoors to capture breathtaking and once-in-a-lifetime scenes through the lens of their camera.

One of these visual artists' and camera wielders' favorite subjects is lightning.

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Why Lightning Photography is a Popular Genre

Lightning strikes are naturally-occurring phenomena that are both captivating and unpredictable. These two characteristics make them appealing to professional and beginner shutterbugs. However, their appeal and unpredictability also present risks.

Lightning strikes are naturally-occurring phenomena

Lightning is a powerful bolt of electrical discharge that cannot be tamed. They strike when there is an imbalance between the ground and the clouds. Typically, they occur between clouds, inside clouds, and between the clouds and the ground. These events happen at millisecond speed.

Thi high-speed light show presents challenges and offers opportunities to those who dare to take on this impressive photography assignment. There’s a reason why photographers hone their skills just to take their talents to the next level, a level that’s good enough to add a perfectly composed lightning photo to their portfolio.

How to Get Started with Lightning Photography

In this article, we’ll help you achieve just that: a lightning photography portfolio that showcases your abilities and skills in one of the most daunting genres of photography, high-speed lightning photography.

How to Get Started with Lightning Photography

Specifically, we’ll focus on how to take lightning photos and create unique lightning photo compositions for a one-of-a-kind and once-in-a-lifetime image.

Before we get started, let’s first look at how to set up your camera, settings recommendations, and what equipment you need to capture great lightning photos consistently.

Lightning Photography Camera Equipment, Settings, and Setup

Lightning photography is beginner-friendly. Even if you only have standard and entry-level camera equipment, you don’t have to worry. As long as you know how to use your gear and set up your equipment, you’ll be okay.

So what are the camera gear and equipment that you need to get started on your lightning photography journey? Let’s start with the basics.

1. Camera

Whether you’re using a DLSR, mirrorless camera, or point-and-shoot camera, as long as it has a Manual mode, you can use it for taking lightning photos. The question of which camera to use for lightning photography will depend on the purpose of the shoot.

Lightning Photography Camera Equipment

If you’re a beginner photographer and just want to see what you can do with your camera, you can focus more on your technique and how to adjust your camera’s settings to get the shot that you want.

However, if you want outstanding and high-definition photos of lightning, DSLRs and mirrorless cameras should be on your equipment list.

FAQ #1: Why is having a Manual Mode important when taking lightning photos?

Manual modes allow camera users to adjust their cameras according to the subject, background, and light source available.

Manual mode adjustments allow varying Aperture settings to control how much light from the lightning bolt enters the camera, ISO to adjust your camera to the light burst sensitivity and shutter speed that determines how fast your camera captures the event.

2. Tripod

Professional photographers have developed this stability, in terms of handling their camera by hand, without worrying about blurs and missed shots. However, confidence and experience may not be enough when taking lightning shots. You’re still going to need the help of your good old, and not to mention, dependable tripod. Why?

When taking good lightning photos, you’re going to shoot them in a low-lit environment. It means that the only source of light that the camera will get is the lightning strike, which is the goal. You don’t want any light pollution to ruin the exposure of your shot.

Lightning photoshoots

Since the light source is low, you’re going to need an aperture level of f/5.6 and a fast shutter speed. A fast shutter speed requires your camera to be stable, with zero shaking and vibration, or risk getting a blurry shot and missing great photo opportunities.

FAQ #2: Can you use any tripod for lightning photography?

Lightning photoshoots are done outdoors. It means you’re going to travel and probably hike to your location. Bringing a light tripod with you is practical. However, be prepared to be resourceful.

Lightning events usually happen during thunderstorms. We’re not talking about a calm night with a nice breeze. It can be a rainy evening or daytime, with relatively strong winds that could easily topple down a camera mounted on a light tripod. There are remedies to this.

Use gravity to your advantage. Attach a hook to the center pole of your tripod and hang a bag of rocks or your backpack to pull the structure down and secure it to the ground. However, remember not to overdo it. A tripod can only hold three times the weight of your camera, lens, and tripod head combined.

3. Lens

Photographers who have experience taking photos of lightning say that any lens will do. However, most of them have preferences.

Typically, you can use a mid-range zoom lens and choose between a 24-105mm lens and a 24-70mm lens. Other photographers love zoom lenses instead of the prime lens selections as the former gives them flexibility and ensures safety for capturing dangerous lightning bursts from a safe distance.

Lightning photography lenses
FAQ #3: Are wide-angle lenses good for capturing lightning photos?

A quick lightning photography tutorial Google search will give you varying opinions on this question. However, most photographers indeed like using wide-angle lenses for lightning photography as the width of the frame allows them to capture multiple lightning photos across the frame, and not rely on luck. Other lenses often used in landscape photography are also popular picks for the same reason.

4. Remote Trigger

Also known as a shutter release, a remote trigger helps you control your camera from a distance. This is helpful, especially if you’re taking photos of lightning, known to be one of the riskiest photography genres in modern photography.

A remote camera trigger ensures that you are triggering your camera’s shutter from a safe, dry, and protected distance, especially during thunderstorms where lightning events are equally captivating and powerful.

More importantly, camera triggers help you take on the challenges of high-speed photography. With a camera trigger, you’ll be fast enough to click your camera’s shutter and capture split-second lightning bolts without missing a shot!

Remote camera triggers often work wired or wirelessly. However, the latest models and brands of remote camera triggers offer more than just remotely signalling your camera to activate the shutter fast.

Lightning Photography lenses
FAQ #4: What is the best camera trigger for lightning photography?

There is a long list of lightning camera triggers in the market today. MIOPS leads the ranking as the most recommended remote trigger you can use for lightning photography.

Why is MIOPS a great camera trigger for beginner lightning photographers?

A modern camera trigger, like MIOPS SMART camera trigger, does a lot more than controlling your camera’s shutter. For one, MIOPS has a dedicated Lightning Mode that caters to the most specific high-speed settings and requirements in lightning photography.

MIOPS SMART camera trigger has a highly sensitive Light sensor that detects lightning activities on-site. This device eliminates the guesswork as it automatically triggers your shutter to take a photo whenever there’s a lightning event.

As a remote and wireless trigger that can be controlled via the smartphone, through a dedicated mobile application, you can just relax and wait in a sheltered location, and let the camera-remote trigger combination do the rest.

MIOPS’s intelligent technology also lets you control your camera through your smartphone. Through the MIOPS app, you can automatically adjust your camera’s ISO, exposure value, and aperture, and takes control of the shutter speed to deliver a perfect, blur-free lightning photo.

A remote trigger can definitely up your game in lightning photography, even with an entry-level camera!

5. Weather Proofing

Remember, your camera is not rainproof. The most beautiful lightning events come with a price: they usually happen during the harshest of weather. Weather-sealing items for your camera, therefore, should be a part of your lightning photography equipment.

Your camera and your lenses are very sensitive to moisture and condensation. They’re going to be sitting there, for hours, waiting for the best photo opportunities that nature can offer. Weather-sealing them not only protects your expensive gear. It will also give you more time to stay and take more photos, making the trip and the trouble, worth it.

Now that you’re ready with your camera equipment and how to set up your gear for a lightning shoot, it’s time to decide on the composition and how you frame your shot.

Lightning Photography Composition Ideas

Lightning Photography Composition Ideas

Planning your composition is a bit tricky when it comes to lightning photography. Aside from the fact that your subject is unpredictable, you also have to consider that you can't choose the exact location of the lightning events. You have to make do with what you have and let your creativity flow, during the shoot and the post-process.

However, we’ve asked some of the seasoned lightning photographers we know and here are several pieces of advice that they shared with us.

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1. Identity interesting lightning cell areas and focus on them.

While every lightning event offers unique and unpredictable lightning bursts, you can also rely on one fact: lightning does strike the same spot twice. With this knowledge in mind, you can position your camera and point your lens towards specific sections on the horizon to catch lightning cells that seem more interesting.

These sections may not give you the same patterns but trust that they are capable of delivering the same intensity and power of that electrical current that created the previous bursts.

2. Focus on your subject and make sure they dominate the frame.

Veteran lightning photographers can spot a beginner based on how they fit the lightning strike within the frame. Most of these rookie mistakes include lightning images that have too many clouds and sky that cover a third or even half of the photo. Remember, you’re photographing lighting, not cloud-watching!

One professional advice is to make sure that your lightning bolts always originate below the top of your camera’s frame. Include just the right area of the cloud where the burst originates. It’s also crucial to know your lightning types.

3. Know the different types of lightning and capture their uniqueness.

Another beginner mistake is delivering an incomplete lightning photo because of bad composition.

For instance, some photographers accidentally or intentionally cut off the lightning pattern at the top or the bottom where it hits. For starters, capture the lightning’s point of origin to deliver a powerful portrayal of this breathtaking event.

Additionally, make sure you know your subject. There are different types of lightning, each offering colors, patterns, and intensities that make them unique.

Types of Lightning Events
A. Ribbon Lightning

Ribbon lightning is characterized by a thick, ribbon-like streak of cloud-to-ground lighting.

B.    Forked Lightning

Forked lightning is the most common, with bursts branching out and often dividing into two streaks the moment it hits the ground.

C.   Spider Lightning Lightning

Another type is spider lightning often found underneath clouds. They are identified with an oval-shaped point of origin and long, horizontal branches.

D.   Ball Lightning

Finally, the rarest lightning of all that many photographers only dream of capturing is the ball lightning. Its characteristics vary, based on descriptions of people who were lucky enough to witness this once-in-a-blue-moon event.

 

different types of lightning and capture

Ball lightning is a very luminous lightning event and its bolts come in red, yellow, orange, or blue. Observers say that they move up and down, have a distinct, sulphur smell before it disappears, and can explode upon contact with an object.

4. Use your surroundings and balance the frame.

Use your surroundings to your advantage to create a background and foreground that complements your subject. Capture dramatic photos of lightning on the horizon, above cityscapes and natural landscapes, such as trees and mountains.

5. Just have fun and leave room for post-processing!

Capturing lightning strikes can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. However, you don’t have to worry about perfecting this genre right away. For mistakes, missed photo opportunities, and faulty framing and composition, you can always rely on your post-processing skills. To do this, make sure to take your photos in high-resolution to give your images the flexibility and quality it needs for post-processing.

Post-processing helps you become creative in crafting a more spectacular image. You can also combine multiple lightning events in one image, to either show duration or transition.

This stage in image production also allows you to make adjustments, such as adjusting the image’s exposure, reducing noise, sharpening the images, and cropping your photos for better framing and composition.

Remember that you’re allowed to make mistakes. It’s another way to learn and hone your skills in this amazing photography genre.

Start Your Lightning Photography Journey Here

It’s easy to start your lightning photography journey, especially if you have the right camera gadgets and equipment with you. Why not try to learn more about MIOPS Camera remote trigger and see how it can help you take the first step?

Check our MIOPS Smart and our other high-speed camera gadgets here!

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Blog Credit: Charm Villalon

Charm is a writer and a visual artist. Her drive to share ideas and stories is evident in her background in communication arts and language studies. Years of professional experience in content creation have given her a broad proficiency with the process of engaging online communities. An appreciation for multiple languages and cultures drives her to seek out experiences and capture these moments through her writing, digital art, and photography.

Useful Tips For Photographing Stunning Lightning Bolts

Three seperate lightning bolts captured above the bridge on a stormy day

How to use MIOPS to take photos of lightning and how to make your lightning photos extraordinary.

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