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It was a dark and stormy night. I was sitting at my computer programming new features for The Lens Flare when a loud rumble shook the house, and like a madman, I made a run for it. Of course, I didn't run for shelter like a normal person might. I ran for my camera and tripod like a gibbering lunatic. My brain swirled with the techniques that I'd read in the TLF forums, and I was determined to try them out.
The first set of clouds produced amazing lightning then quickly passed. Slamming my memory card into the computer, I quickly realized that every one of them was a dud. I though the focus ring was set to infinity, but it was turned completely the opposite way. Every picture was extremely blurry, but I was still somewhat happy because I'd managed to get 3-4 lightning bolts in the shot.
About 30 minutes later, another thundercloud rolled in and I was ready. I shot the cloud as it approached the back of the house, then switched to the front yard as it passed over. A few of the bolts were so close, powerful, and bright that it completely washed out the shot. But I was able to get a handful of well exposed bolts of lightning.
For those that would like to try to shoot lightning, first make sure you are in a safe place. I'd hate to hear about a photog-b-que on the news.
Once you're safe, use a tripod and shoot long exposure shots anywhere from 2-30 seconds (or longer if your camera lets you). If the bolts are too bright, consider using an ND filter. Use the manual focus and set it to infinity (it's a good idea to figure out how to do this before you're in the middle of the storm). Play with the aperture settings to meet your situation. You may find that a wide open aperture is best, but that might over expose your shot if they're blasting close by. Use your shortest focal length so that you're covering more sky, and don't be afraid to continually have a picture in the works. I took about 130 pictures and ended up with about 5 good ones, a few over exposed ones, a few really small sparks, and a whole lot of duds.
Also, I'd like to thank Alan (Bubbalinn) for the tips that he gave me on the TLF message board.
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