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Lightning Photos - best methods?

wisefish

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I have been trying to get lightning pics with my A2S the last week with moderate success. I shoot in almost pitch black conditions at night, in full manual, RAW format, ISO 100 and shutter speed set to 8 seconds. Then I just take continuous pics and hope a strike happens when the shutter is open. Problem is...lightning is overexposed. I'm thinking about using an ND 32 filter to tame the light down. Anybody have any ideas or advice. Included is an example of an overexposed lightning strike pic. 06112023_0552_crop.jpg
 
The lightning bolt itself will always be totally white because the light from it is so extremely bright.
An ND filter will not help at all, it will simply give you a much darker image overall (if you keep the same shutter speed), and you will lose detail in the sky and landscape.
 
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Anybody have any ideas or advice. Included is an example of an overexposed lightning strike pic.

Record video and edit a frame grab later.

I have no knowledge of photography but captured a storm years ago with my SPARK while recording at 1080p.


I'm sure the frame grabs of today are much better.

Find the perfect storm, send 'er up and good luck. :)

Oh, by the way, there's a vendor here that sells wetsuits for drones if interested when flying in the rain.


.
 
The problem with using a longer shutter speed is that if the lightning strikes at the beginning of the shot, you're toast. You're not picking up any detail in the shadows anyway, so it might be worth going down to a <1 second shutter speed. And not sure how flexible your shooting options are, but shooting in the pitch black is not ideal for a few reasons, like making the photo overall less interesting but also ensuring your shot is actually in focus.
 
I used to do lightning photos back in the film days, shot at night and kept the shutter open until lightning flashed. I got some pretty good ones with that technique. I suppose he's trying to do a similar thing with the drone although you don't have the shutter control you have with the bulb setting on a land camera.
 
I have been trying to get lightning pics with my A2S the last week with moderate success. I shoot in almost pitch black conditions at night, in full manual, RAW format, ISO 100 and shutter speed set to 8 seconds. Then I just take continuous pics and hope a strike happens when the shutter is open. Problem is...lightning is overexposed. I'm thinking about using an ND 32 filter to tame the light down. Anybody have any ideas or advice. Included is an example of an overexposed lightning strike pic.

A lightning bolt should be overexposed - totally washed out. It's extremely intense light.

In my opinion, that sample photo you posted is an absolutely wonderful lighting photograph.

(Changing your shutter speed to 1/4 second has the same exposure effect as adding an ND32 filter - five stops. The lightning would look the same, but you'd lose some the detail in the sky and ground.)
 
recordibg video is the best I,ve found I have actualltrid to take a picture of one missed but another just happened and it was an awesome shot thats when I knew recording was going to work better ,look up the lightning feild and check out pictures made 40 years ago
 
As mentioned that's the right way to do it, and result's good.
Not all strikes are as bright so if you add a filter you'll end up with some underexposed ones, and that makes them useless.
Just luck of the draw.
 
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Couple things to note: Your Picture is an Award winning Picture and that requires the luck of the gods to be with you as this is what it looks like to capture Lightning in the Pitch Black


Pitch black skies are the hardest, so if you do have a lit sky turn the Exposure all the way down as that will also help you find Lightning in the sky .

The Lighting Pictures are always going to be somewhat over exposed, but what you can do is use the Lumination Tool in the edit the noise in the picture and tame the over exposed brights without loosing the Brightness.

Despite the Number of Lighting Shots I have collected over the years < I have yet to capture a Picture and not a Frame . But the Video Frames offer a nice result as well as i search for Aliens in the sky, lol


C0003.00_07_41_13.Still009-1.jpg

C0003.00_07_41_17.Still012-1.jpg

Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly in the Rain. Capture the Storm
 
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Thanks to everyone for all the advice/tips/info. The pic I originally posted has already been super tamed down in Photshop and any more editing resulted in unacceptable quality loss. The reason I expose for 5-8 seconds is to hopefully capture that single +/- 0.5 second of lightning at some point while the shutter is open. Shooting in the pitch black means I don't have to pay any mind to exposure because without a strike my pic will just be totally black. But I'm thinking an ND32 would limit enough of the lightning flash light to get me a better exposure and allow me more flexibility during editing.

I also shoot video to capture lightning and then take screen captures using Premier Pro. But the video screen grabs are low quality/low res JPEGs which really limits my ability to edit. While my photos are high res RAW images and definetly high quality.

I plan on experimenting using all the great advice/tips everyone has given already though. Just need more storms! I'll definetly update this thread if I manage to find a way to consistently get good lightning shots with my A2S.
 
I agree with MS Coast and DV Powers. Your lightning photo is first-rate! But keep on shooting. Each will be unique, and some may approach National Geographic quality!

Rich R (aka Hauptmann)
 
Thanks to everyone for all the advice/tips/info. The pic I originally posted has already been super tamed down in Photshop and any more editing resulted in unacceptable quality loss. T

I also shoot video to capture lightning and then take screen captures using Premier Pro. But the video screen grabs are low quality/low res JPEGs which really limits my ability to edit. While my photos are high res RAW images and definetly high quality.

I plan on experimenting using all the great advice/tips everyone has given already though. Just need more storms! I'll definetly update this thread if I manage to find a way to consistently get good lightning shots with my A2S.
Photoshop is ok , but you might want to look into LIghtroom to get a little bit more Screenshot of Lightroom Classic (6-16-23, 12-13-35 AM).png

Screenshot of Lightroom Classic (6-16-23, 12-09-10 AM).png

Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly in the Rain. Land on the Water, and Capture the Storm.
 
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Hi Everyone - New to the site and this thread in particular. Long time lightning/storm shooter (from the ground) but still battling with the best methods for capturing strikes with a drone. The image below was one of the first clean bolts I captured with the Air2, 7-sec exposure a few years back. Just upgraded to the Mavic 3 Classic and testing out different methods, 4K60 frame grabs, long(er) exposures using burst mode and now playing with 1-3 sec exposures using hyperlapse so I can put her up and just let her run for an entire battery with hopes of capturing some strikes. I still lean toward photo over video mainly for the flexibility of RAW versus frame grabs. Good chance you will miss many more using photo methods, especially with longer exposures, but when you do catch a few they will likely much cleaner, higher quality, images. So glad I found this thread and look forward to seeing what everyone captures and the methods used.
 

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Hi Everyone - New to the site and this thread in particular. Long time lightning/storm shooter (from the ground) but still battling with the best methods for capturing strikes with a drone. The image below was one of the first clean bolts I captured with the Air2, 7-sec exposure a few years back. Just upgraded to the Mavic 3 Classic and testing out different methods, 4K60 frame grabs, long(er) exposures using burst mode and now playing with 1-3 sec exposures using hyperlapse so I can put her up and just let her run for an entire battery with hopes of capturing some strikes. I still lean toward photo over video mainly for the flexibility of RAW versus frame grabs. Good chance you will miss many more using photo methods, especially with longer exposures, but when you do catch a few they will likely much cleaner, higher quality, images. So glad I found this thread and look forward to seeing what everyone captures and the methods used.
Ahhh yes...the ol' extended exposure hyperlapse trick could be just the move I've been looking for. I can't believe that never occurred to me before. My area is forecast to get lightning storms the next couple days, after a month of clear skies, and I will for sure be trying the hyperlapse method. Thanks for the idea. Also...I totally agree with you about 4K 60FPS screen caps not providing editing flexibility or high enough quality as compared to RAW images.
 
I have been trying to get lightning pics with my A2S the last week with moderate success. I shoot in almost pitch black conditions at night, in full manual, RAW format, ISO 100 and shutter speed set to 8 seconds. Then I just take continuous pics and hope a strike happens when the shutter is open. Problem is...lightning is overexposed. I'm thinking about using an ND 32 filter to tame the light down. Anybody have any ideas or advice. Included is an example of an overexposed lightning strike pic. View attachment 165230
I think you did a great job. I tweeked it a little and a link to the dropbox file. Thx A

06112023_0552_crop A.jpg
 
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