It was amazing watching this lightning storm across the St John's River in Jacksonville, Florida.  Photos by John Shippee Photography.

5 Tips for Photographing a Storm

Storm photography is near the top of my list of favorite types of photography. In fact, it may be a very close second. Concert photography being at the top of the list.

Here are some things I've picked up from years of experience.

1. Location:

Choose somewhere that is visually interesting on its own, regardless of the weather. While it is true the storm will add some interest, you don’t want to be stuck with a boring landscape. In the case above, I chose the pier at Jacksonville Beach.

2. Equipment:

While I prefer using a dslr, you could really get away with any camera which allows you to control the shutter speed and aperture. You will also want a tripod to mount the camera since you will be using longer exposures and you don’t want to end up with blurry photos.

3. When:

Obviously when there is a storm. :p I use two methods for this when I'm planning: any dependable weather site for the checking to see when a storm is expected. Then when it comes to the actual day, I will use local traffic and beach cams to see if the storm is actually there and how it’s looking. It sucks getting all your gear together and driving to a location only to find the storm is either long since passed, or isn’t what you were expecting.

4. Camera Settings:

For the shot at the top of this post, I was using a 10.5mm lens on a crop framed sensor camera at f2.8 using ISO 500 and an exposure of .75 seconds. While I wasn’t lucky enough to capture any lightning bolts in this set, the lightning was enough to add some nice contrast and brightened the sky to the left of the frame.

5. Editing:

This is really in the eye of the beholder. For my storm photos, I generally try to keep the editing down to a minimum and will usually opt for cropping and adjusting the white balance and the exposure.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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