the Omnipotent – Time Lapse Still of Lightning at Dusk

I’ve photographed the dramatic effects of lightning at night, however my preference is the look (and the more challenging) of lightning at dusk.

This image is a time-lapse still (layered in Lighten Mode via Photoshop):
The mix of colors, clouds, lightning, … and even star trails in this image are achieved in a total of 8 minutes of 15 second exposures. ..
Made July 13,2015. Facing Southeast on the edge of a very prolific slow moving storm.

The tricky part of daytime lightning is in the exposure. Many use a lightning trigger .. if not, a long enough exposure is necessary to register lightning when it does strike; it’s there and gone faster than we are able to manually ‘react’. I utilize Singh Ray’s ND filters with the goal of achieving at the least an optimal 6 second exposure.
My aperture and ISO are my priorities first and depend on the characteristics of the lightning (how close, how bright,..topic for another time).
To achieve that 6 seconds (or even stretching it down to 2 or 3) would be less than probable with any daylight in the sky. Even if you could achieve that longer shutter time, it would mean a render of your lowest ISO and aperture, which would likely miss the lightning strikes altogether. A more detailed explanation is a topic for another day…
In this scenario, and during Nautical twilight, I was able to achieve 15 second exposures (continuous with Intervalometer) at f/7.1, ISO 200 with a 5 stop ND filter. Gitzo tripod. Nikon D810, 90mm.
… 90mm, you ask? Oh yes. To be under the impression that only a wide angle lens is optimal for lightning doesn’t always hold true. The storm was further away and centralized. It made more sense to compose with a longer lens. My wide angle lenses stayed in their pouches.

I also pay further note to the other effects of the 15 second exposures in the movement of the clouds and the small amount of southeasterly star trails that occur over 8 minutes.

Prints of This image:
More lightning images
For landscape and night photography lessons please email me


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