Old 06-03-2009, 11:53 PM   #1
bigbassloyd
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Default Opinions on my first attempts at lightning

We had a decent line of thunderstorms roll through the area just after dark last night, and I spent a few moments track side to attempt to put a train in a lightning shot. Here's the best one of the bunch, submitted for opinions from the group on what is good and bad about the shot. I was really surprised that the strikes were bright enough one time to freeze the train. the shot was 2 minutes long @ f8.0, ISO 100. I had an old shirt thrown over the camera to keep it dry, as it was raining very hard.

Thanks for your input!

Loyd L.
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:59 PM   #2
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I like it. Maybe get that lightening to stand out a little more though?
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:14 AM   #3
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I really like the shot, conveys the bad weather well. I agree that if you can adjust the levels so the lightning stands out more that would be good, but its a great shot as is.
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:48 AM   #4
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That is a nice shot for your first attempt.

The best advice I could give is to look for thunderstorms that have less rain with them. Not only do you have to worry less about keeping the camera dry, but low clouds and rain bands tend to obscure all but the closest lightning bolts. It's very difficult to post-process cloud obscured bolts into those sharp, crisp bolts that we'd like to see.

I've only been lucky enough to capture lightning once (just barely) while shooting rail-related subjects:

http://mattbeisser.fotopic.net/p51051633.html
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Old 06-04-2009, 02:38 PM   #5
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Here's what I tr to do when a thunder storm approaches. Find a stationary object and shootlike crazy. As mentioned, it helps if it's not raining yet. The bolts can be much more defined if you're not bothering with rain, etc. It also can light up the sky in weird, vivid colors. I've really only been lucky one. It's hard to master certainly, and I've not donne that by a long shot.
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:40 PM   #6
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I'll echo Joe's sentiments. A stationary object is your best bet for lightning shots. Also, with a stationary object, if the lightning is really good or spaced predictably, you won't have to leave the shutter open for 2-3 minutes. Lastly, I think it was still a little too light in your shot, and that's why the lightning is hard to see. If it had been a few hours later, I may have worked better.

Last summer, while AB2 and I were in Iowa, we attempted to get lightning shots while a UP local drilled an industry right after sunset. We ran into the same problem as you where it was just too bright to see the lightning really good, plus the train never really got into a good position. Another storm popped up a few hours later, so we set up to shoot one of the Iowa Traction's engines parked for the night with the storm in the distance. This worked out much better.

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Old 06-04-2009, 03:44 PM   #7
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I would like to see a white balance adjustment since that light bluish hue kills the shot for me. That adjustment may help that bolt pop some along with darkening the sky some. Rain is only a factor if the exposure is too long and/or the bolt is a long way away. The best luck I have a capturing strong bright lightning is using the shortest exposure times I can with low iso and smaller apeture too help keep the bright bolt in check. It seems exposures over 10 seconds will wash out or make the bolt too faint and dull. Abviously every situation is different.

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I like the white balance in this shot better personally.
http://www.dewitzphotography.com/gal...715_NVNf7-L-LB

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Old 06-04-2009, 06:55 PM   #8
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Loyd,

Definitely try to find a subject that is stationary and as Joe said, shoot it like crazy. I've also found that if there is a lot of lightning, try to get a short exposure to keep from blinding the camera. It was pitch black outside a couple nights ago, and I had the shutter opened for 1 minute 30 seconds on F9.0 and the sky was just very bright and purple. Then I turned right back around and did a 12 second exposure and came out with this..

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8898317@N04/3580628916/

I kept my WB on Fluorescent and thankfully, it had not started raining yet, which made the lightning really stand out.

Chase
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Old 06-04-2009, 09:00 PM   #9
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Here in the desert southwest, we get a lot of what folks term dry lightning, meaning no rain associated with the storm. Now that it's getting near the summer monsoon season, I am getting my camera and tripod geared up for more of mother nature's action. Here are a couple from last August in Northern Arizona.

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Old 06-04-2009, 11:05 PM   #10
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Old 06-05-2009, 11:09 PM   #11
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Having only been shooting trains for little less than a year, I am by no means expert. What I can say is that to capture a moving train witha nice strike is, well, gonna be tuff. I have many strike shots but only 1 in the DB. You will have a much better chance later this year as the WV dry lighting arrives. Rain really takes the visual punch out of lightning................ I will go manual, bulb, and expose for up to 30 seconds or a strike, whichever comes first. If I get a fast strike, then I may try for 2 in same exposure.......

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Old 06-05-2009, 11:49 PM   #12
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Thanks to all who've given their advice! I hope to prove your efforts fruitful in the coming months.

Tonight I'll play with a more familiar friend.. FOG!

Loyd L.
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:11 AM   #13
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I see more mainline steam in a year then I see lightning in Philadelphia...
I think a 2 month exposure might yeild a bolt?
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Old 06-06-2009, 07:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post
Thanks to all who've given their advice! I hope to prove your efforts fruitful in the coming months.

Tonight I'll play with a more familiar friend.. FOG!

Loyd L.
Oh brother.... Here comes another PCA.

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