I'm Devendra Kulkarni

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Capturing the bolts

One of the magnificent forces of the nature. A discharge of billions of volts of electricity due to imbalance between clouds. It is the one of the most violent force with 100 strikes a second somewhere on earth which is more than 300,000 lightning strikes a day. The bolt size of a coin with temperatures 5 times of the surface of the sun. They are also one of the source of Nitrate which is generated as the bolt hits the ground which helps plants and trees. As it support life, it is also cause of massive fire in forests yet it is also danger to humans as about 2,000 people are killed worldwide by lightning each year.

Capturing it is quiet challenging task. It takes proper equipment, correct place, and direction of camera as well as correct settings that are required to capture the lightning flash as it occurs just for few milliseconds. I’ve been capturing lightning since last 2 years but never had clicked lightning like this before. It was truly great and memorable experience. Since lightening happens quiet often here in Pune, India typically early monsoon it is not very often you get chance to click it. 

Before starting to click lightning, I used satellite weather imagery to exactly pin point the direction of the thunderstorm, which helped me to point my camera to one direction which have more possible chances of lightning. It is better to point camera towards the storm than any random direction. I will also suggest to observe the lightning for few minutes so it will give you quiet idea about on which direction strikes are most often seen. 

WMO Post : http://bit.ly/2rm07vC

Here are few shots taken by me on 13th of May 2017 as the thunderstorm rolls over: 

Liked my captures?? Don’t forget to comment down what you think.

That day it happened to be lucky day, as I got almost 8-10 awesome photos which has lightning in it. So how did I captured them - 

I used following setup to capture it. But before you do so, it is required that you should place your camera in safe place, away from rain as high speed winds during thunderstorm might wet your equipment which is not good. 

1. DSLR camera or any bridge / semi SLR with Manual mode
2. 18-55mm lens or wide possible. 
3. Tripod
4. Remote shutter release (wired remote)

Camera settings: 
1. Manual (M) Mode
2. With 18mm wide angle
3. Manual Focus – MF OFF (set focus on distinct object and set it to MF)
4. IS OFF(Image stabilizer)
5. f5.6 (idle for 20-30sec long exposure) 
6. ISO100 (as we are capturing lightning I don’t think more than 100 ISO is req)
7. Drive Mode (Continuous Shoot/Burst)

Now there are 2 methods which I found for clicking lightning as I also use the same to click satellites as well as space objects such as ISS/ Hubble space telescope. I kept f5.6 as I wanted to capture individual lightning. It can be increased along with exposure time as you want.

1. Set shutter speed to BULB (only possible in M mode) and use the wired shutter hold remote to manually take the long exposure, this allows you to take fully control over the shot but also it is highly possibility of missing the lightning or getting over or under exposed shots usually I took 30-35sec with BULB. 

Over Exposed Shot as lightning strikes nearby
2. The good way I to click lightning is that, by setting it to 20 sec exposure and as the Drive/ Continues shooting mode is on it continuously keep capturing the photos until you release the remote button (Remote allows you to take continously shooting the pics as long as you want without touching the camera). This can also allow you to switch off the camera screen which may help to save in battery. This technic is also used for astro photography to capture milkyway or to capture time-lapse. Since lightning occurs for just for few milliseconds it is required to capture it in long exposure. 

I hope you get pretty good idea about capturing such images. It takes self-experiments also with different settings & time to sit back and wait for the right shot. 

Above shots are also going to be featured on World Meteorological Organization (WMO) social networks a United Nations entity for global climate monitoring and administration. 

Resources : 

  1. Real-Time Lightning Map : Click Here
  2. Lightning Facts : Click Here

Thank you. Leave your comment below if is there any questions, suggestions or tips. 

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Fashion | Lifestyle | Portrait | Celebrity | Aerial | Wedding Photogrpaher based in Pune

Crazy about planes & flying machines, exploring new things over different domains such as Tech. Space. Aviation. Travel. Adventure. and many more.


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