Photographing Lightning in Your Landscape Photographs

Photo Quickie: Photographing Lightning

Spring is upon us and the storms have started rolling, so I thought I would share this useful tip on photographing lightning in your landscape photography again.


First attempt at capturing lightning, not too bad for having sleepy eyes and in my jammies.

To shoot a successful landscape photograph with lightning you need to set your camera on a tripod or on a secure stable surface.  Next you will want your camera on Manual mode, its best practices to enable the mirror lock-up function and use a cable release to minimize the camera shake when you touch it.

A good starter setting for your aperture (f-stop) would be somewhere between 8 or 11 to ensure your exposure is between 5 and 30 seconds. This will open the shutter for extended periods of time. You will not know when or where in the frame they’ll appear so manually focus on infinity and include a lot of sky in your composition….now you sit and wait for the lightning to strike. It may not happen on your first few attempts but eventually it will.

A landscape photograph of lightning striking property of Salem Power Plant in New Jersey. Photograph taken from Augustine Beach Delaware by Melissa Fague.

The image above, Lightning and Salem Power Plant, was created to show the contrast between man-made power and mother nature. I envisioned capturing lightning in that location for months; it took me sitting through seven storms and a few hundred shots to achieve it. I captured other bolts during the time spent there but they were not as interesting, intense or they did not hit where I wanted in the frame. Be patient and keep trying!