Capturing Lightning

A quick how-to on capturing lightning photos…

Capturing Lightning

STEP 1: know that the elements won’t wait…

  • A good philosophy for photography in general is to always ask “if not now, then when?”
  • High vantage points are always good for capturing lighting, but be safe.

Capturing Lighting

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, always be isolated from direct paths to ground.

Capturing Lighting from my truck window on a hill top in West VirginiaIt’s nice to feel like the vehicle provides some protection from being electrocuted. When photographing lightning, I’m always in an enclosure that I think is isolated well enough, often assuming my truck’s rubber tires will protect me on a mountain top. Though, this actually has little to do with why it’s safe. My friend, Dr. Robert Svensson reminded me that my safety is “due to the fact that the current flows outside the car body…This is also called Faraday’s Cage.” ..should I take a direct hit from a bolt of lightning.
A hatched back vehicle can make for a nice Faraday Cage and mobile enclosure. Additionally, I’ve found that if I can maintain a positive air pressure in the enclosure I’m shooting from relative to the outside conditions, it really helps keep some of the rain and wind spray off my lens.

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