Archivi categoria: advice

5 Simple Tips for Shooting Better Interior Photography

Whether you’re interested in lifestyle photography, real estate imagery, or something in between, knowing how to capture great photos of interiors is a skill all beginners should master. Here are 5 quick tips that’ll help up your interior photography game.

This tutorial was put together by Daniel and Rachel of Mango Street Lab, and like most “tips” videos, these are more like… guidelines. Depending on the mood you’re going for, the client brief, and your own stylistic preferences, you’ll want to adjust these tips accordingly. That said, these 5 guidelines offer a great place to start.

1. Shoot from waist level

Shooting from a standing position will have you looking down on most interior scenes, especially if you’re emphasizing furniture and decor. Shoot from waist level, and use a tripod to make sure you get rock-steady shots from the perfect perspective.

2. Choose your subject and compose accordingly

Many (if not most) interior shoots will feature decor over people, so pick a subject and then compose your shot accordingly. Don’t be afraid to move things around, remove distracting elements, and add (appropriate) touches like books, plants, and/or blankets.

3. Use a wide-angle lens for most shots, and a normal lens for details

This one depends a lot on the client brief or specific shot you’re taking, but most interior shots will be captured with a wide-angle lens (24mm equivalent-ish or wider). The exception is detail shots, which require a closer crop and will be better served by, say, a 50mm equivalent.

4. Use natural light, turn off interior lights, and use a reflector or LED panels for fill

The lighting tips in the video are more specific to Mango Street’s own style. They shoot natural light (usually during the brightest parts of the day) augmented by LED panels or some reflectors to fill in shadows. They also suggest you turn off all of the artificial lights to avoid white balance issues, unless, of course, you need to show off those lighting fixtures.

5. Shoot with a smaller (f/5.6-f/11) aperture to keep everything in focus

Shooting wide open and getting that bokehlicious look is all good and well, but if your goal is to show off a whole room, you’ll want to keep the whole room in focus. Stop down unless you’re shooting detail shots where you want to isolate a smaller subject.


And that’s it. The tips aren’t ground-breaking, but they’ll definitely keep beginners from making some common mistakes, and they can help make interior snapshots look a lot more polished. Check out the video up top to elaborate on each tip, and then head over to the Mango Street Lab YouTube channel for more tutorials and tips videos like this one.

How to Tell a Story in Your Landscape Photos

Sometimes when I go to new locations, they can be so awe-inspiring that I feel photographically challenged. When this happens, I need to take a step back and think about the location’s special traits that fill me with such awe.

What is important about this area—is there some natural event occurring, or some irregular weather phenomenon? In short, what are the stories this new place is trying to tell me? Answering these questions often lends direction to my photography and helps me realize which stories about the area I want to share with others.

(Note: although I primarily photograph natural subjects, this technique works equally well with any location or subject).

I recently used this technique when I spent several days in the Namib Desert in Namibia last year. At first, being surrounded by these huge red sand dunes was overwhelming. What should I shoot first? As I explored the desert around me, I began to recognize several stories that this place had to tell.

The most obvious story was about the sheer size of the sand dunes found here. This is the oldest desert in the world—home to the world’s largest sand dunes. I had photographed sand dunes before, but never any of the massive size that I saw in this desert. The rust-orange massifs were more akin to sand mountains than something as temporary and fleeting as a dune. Some of the largest dunes stood over 1,000 feet (~304 meters) tall, dwarfing the sparse trees and flora that dared to grow at their feet. In the photo below you can faintly see a few trees, which give the enormity of the dunes a sense of scale.

The giant sand dunes of Namibia turn many shades of red and orange under shifting clouds, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

Although this desert receives only 10mm of rain each year, amazingly there are large mammals that thrive here. This was story number two.

Here, a gemsbok oryx (one of Africa’s many species of antelope) roams among dry scrub and dying trees. With no ground water to drink, these animals rely on the occasional fog that rolls in from the Atlantic ocean. After the fog collects on plants and their fur, the oryx lick the scarce moisture from each others coats, sustaining themselves until the next foggy morning.

A gemsbok oryx stands in front of a massive dune, wet from a rare early morning thunder storm, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

While I could take up-close portraits of oryx in other parts of Namibia, telling the story of these large antelope thriving in the desert necessitated using a shorter lens than I usually do for wildlife. A 400mm lens allowed me to include the massive red walls of sand that dominate this habitat.

Again, it was important for me to use unique elements of the scene to tell the story of that location.

Gemsbok oryx cross flat ground in front of a wall of sand – the lower slopes of a massive sand dune, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

A third aspect of this desert that I wanted to show photographically was the rust orange color of the sand. This reddish orange comes from the high iron concentration in the sand and the gradual oxidation of that iron. The older the dune, the more orange it becomes.

In order to offset the beautiful orange and red tones of the sand, I needed blue skies, giving my photos nice complimentary colors. Counter to most of my landscape photos, I opted to shoot in late morning or early afternoon (instead of sunrise or sunset, when the sky itself would be much warmer and closer in tonality to the sand). Had I not been thinking of how to convey the story of these ancient orange dunes, I likely would have kept my camera in the bag at this time of the day.

A massive sand dune glows red orange in the setting sun, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

A final story waiting to be told about this area was the play of light across the contours and textures of the dunes. The photo below was shot at sunrise, creating extreme side light and casting a sharp shadow line along the front crest of the dune.

This strong shadow added shape and contrast to the dune.

Rare storm clouds cast shadows across the massive dunes of the Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

The shadows in the image below manifested very differently in that they are not created by the shape of the dune itself, but rather by clouds moving in front of the sun. Because these dune ridges are actually quite far apart, a large cloud shaded only a single ridge at a time, giving me endless shadow patterns to choose from over the course of about half an hour.

This was my favorite image of this type, as the closest and farthest ridges are in shadow, isolating the middle ridge in sunlight.

Rare storm clouds cast shadows across the massive dunes of the Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

When I first arrived in this vast desert, I was challenged by where to start with my photography. But by focusing on those stories that made this place so special, I could use them to direct my photographic effort. It even helped me develop a shot list to try to fill during my brief stay.

Next time you find yourself in a challenging location, stop and listen—perhaps the area will open up and share its stories with you.


About the author: Hank Christensen is a freelance photographer specializing in bird, landscape, and adventure stock photography. His work has been published on the cover of Outdoor Photographer and Bay Nature, and you can see more of his photos on his website, blog, Instagram, and Facebook. This post was also published here.

Tips for Shooting Aerial Photos from a Helicopter

Taking pictures out of a helicopter is one of the greatest and most rewarding things I’ve done as a photographer. It grants you access to unparalleled views that you would never see otherwise.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing helicopter flights in Iceland, Toronto, New York, and Seattle; as well as a photography flight around downtown Toronto. In this time I’ve learned many things that would help anyone about to venture out onto their first aerial photography flight!

1. Proper clothing

This one may seem obvious, but is so essential if you want to focus on taking good pictures. For your flight (especially if your helicopter is open door), you will want fitted clothing that won’t fly away, with more warmth than you may need at ground level since it gets windy and cold when you’re up there.

Gloves are essential in any cold climate flight as they help keep your hands focused on taking pictures and not losing feeling, all of which will contribute to a happier
and more successful first flight.

2. Battery and memory cards

Being sure that you have a clear memory card and a full battery is crucial to enjoying your flight. On one of my flights I forgot to switch out to my larger card and ran into a full card during my flight; not a fun surprise to have.

3. Think of the different perspectives you want to capture BEFORE takeoff

There are many shots that you can get out of a helicopter, and since you will be moving fairly fast and likely filled with adrenaline; it helps to visualize some general ideas of what you want beforehand. Some of the classic shots include lookdowns from above, dashboard shots, rear propeller shots, and of course regular landscapes from out of the window/door.

As the second part of this, try to be unique whenever you can! As helicopter tours lower in price, more and more people are doing them; thus producing a lot of typical shots. Try to mix in your own perspective while up in the air for a more unique shot and a chance to really have your aerial work stand out. Once up there, keep your camera in burst shooting mode so you don’t miss a moment.

Examples of some perspective shots you can take:

Lookdown Shots

Rear Shots

Dashboard Shots

Landscape Shots

4. Speed of the copter and settings

You will want to set up your camera the best you can before you depart. This for most people will mean using whichever camera mode you are fastest in (for me it is aperture priority as the light conditions may be changing frequently), and bumping your ISO up as to avoid motion shake.

Remember that you are in a moving vehicle, so to have clear shots you will have to compromise to a degree. You will need to find the right balance between your f stop and your ISO, which results in a higher ISO, usually 1000+, and lower aperture, which can go as low as 2.8 depending on the focal length and depending on the time of your flight.

What anyone can and should do as well, is tell your pilot if you are passing something in particular that you want to highlight, and they can perform a hover so you can get a clearer shot at a lower ISO/higher f-stop. This tip may be the most crucial part of the getting the shots you want, because you won’t be able to do anything with them if they are blurry or out of focus after you return.

With an open door flight and a hover maneuver, you can even add your feet to the frame:

5. Understanding what you are getting with the flight

There are many helicopter companies out there offering tours, but of course not all are created equally. It is important that you understand, as a photographer, exactly what you are getting with your first flight. Some things that you should be looking for are flight duration, helicopter type, seating arrangements, doors on or off, and any restrictions the particular company may impose that could affect you. This will ensure you get the best value and best pictures in your flight.

6. Gear

You probably won’t want to be changing lenses while up in the air so many opt to shoot from helicopters with two camera bodies to get two different focal lengths. This is a great way to optimize your flight, but if you only have access to one body just pick whichever you feel suits you best.

Whether shooting with one or two camera bodies, most prefer to go wide angle and/or telephoto (such as a 70-200 or ultra wides like the 16-35). As an added bonus, having the stabilization feature on the lens itself is very handy in these settings if your lens offers it.

Additionally, If you are going to be shooting through a window, it is a good idea to have a polarizer filter to cut down on glare; and to request for a window cleaning before your scheduled departure if possible.

7. Timing of the flight

This may seem obvious, but it is crucial to consider the results you will achieve based on the time of day that you book your flight. Sunset flights are always in high demand, but perhaps a daytime flight with particular weather suits your needs best, or an epic sunrise flight. Know what you want based on the weather and the location you are photographing for a better flight.


All in all, aerial imagery can be incredibly captivating; and the process of going up in the helicopter or plane to find new perspectives is both an incredible life experience and highly addictive! If you employ the tips above before your first flight, I’m positive that you’ll capture some amazing images that will up your photography game and overall portfolio.

Get up, get creative, and enjoy the ride.


About the author: Alex Stelmacovich is a photographer based in Toronto, Canada. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, and 500px.

How to Photograph Lightning: Helpful Tips for Nailing the Shot

Lightning is an amazing subject to try and photograph. Dazzling. Unpredictable. Fulfilling. I’ve been documenting the long arm of Zeus for more than two decades and still love it. First using transparencies and negatives, then digital. There are many ways to be creative when it comes to photographing lightning.

Lightning can occur during any season, even winter. In fact, winter storms can produce lightning and thundersnow, so don’t stop shooting just because it’s cold outside – embrace it!

To help with this, I’ve compiled my top tips for capturing lightning on camera, from understanding how to shoot different types, to the gear you need in the field.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning over eastern Wyoming.

Different Kinds of Lightning

In my experience, there are four distinct ways of classifying lightning relevant to photography: type, intensity, pattern, and color.

TYPE: Cloud-to-ground, cloud-to-cloud, and intra-cloud lightning are the three types of lightning I witness and shoot most frequently. A cloud-to-ground bolt descends from the thunderstorm usually striking something beneath it. A cloud-to-cloud bolt wriggles across the sky and typically doesn’t strike anything. An intra-cloud bolt occurs inside a cloud and is usually hard to see except for the burst-like flash it creates. Some storms produce multiple flashes per second.

The type of lightning occurring will help me decide what lens to use. If it’s a cloud-to-ground bolt, I will likely use a NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G to capture a landscape shot. If it’s several cloud-to-cloud bolts overhead, I might use an NIKKOR 14mm f/2.8D ED and aim straight up. If the storm is producing intra-cloud lightning with nothing else of interest around it, I might use an NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II or an NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens to zero in on the cloud.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning wriggles across the sky at night.

INTENSITY: The intensity of a lightning bolt is especially important to photography. Just how bright I anticipate a bolt to be helps me to set a proper exposure, from ISO to shutter speed. As a storm approaches, I actually study it for a few minutes before ever snapping a frame. How often is the lightning striking? Is the forth or fifth bolt usually the brightest? Shooting with a DSLR allows you to immediately review each image on the camera’s LCD and fine-tune your settings until you get the shot that you want.

Intra-cloud lightning.

PATTERN: One of my favorite lightning objectives is to capture a lone, very clean, cloud-to-ground bolt. I like the stark simplicity. When trying to create a fine-art image, this type of bolt works best in my opinion.

A cloud-to-ground lightning bolt strikes a rural community at sunset.

COLOR: Lightning can strike in a variety of colors. The most common color of lightning is white, but lightning can actually appear red, yellow, green, even blue or purple. The hue usually depends on gases, chemicals, and impurities in the atmosphere, as well as the actual temperature of the lightning bolt. Vivid white lightning is most common. Orange or reddish-colored lightning can occur if there’s a large concentration of dust or pollution in the air. Hailstones in a storm can make lightning appear a purplish color, sometimes even blue. Sodium vapor lamps in a city can also influence the color of lightning, giving it a bluish-green appearance.

Lightning slices through a fiery red sky during a severe thunderstorm at sunset. The unusual color was caused by dust particles in the air. Drought conditions and high winds contributed to the phenomena.

The Best Time to Shoot

Obviously we need a thunderstorm, but not all thunderstorms occur at night. I like shooting at different times of the day. It’s fairly common to capture lightning after dark, but how about a bolt during the day, at sunset or even twilight? Shooting at times other than just pitch black will help bring color and style to your image.

Lightning wriggles across the sky and strikes the ground.

Choosing Gear

I recommend you start by using a DSLR. Buy the lowest noise-producing camera you can afford. The Nikon D810 and D3S are two of my favorites. On a tight budget or just getting started? I like the D3400.

Buy the fastest lens you can afford. The NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, and NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II are my three favorites for shooting lightning. But choosing a lens is subjective. Do you want to zoom in and create a close-up of a single lightning bolt or do you use a wide-angle lens to capture zigzagging bolts overhead? The faster the lens, 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8, the better for shooting in existing light conditions, but I have photographed lightning using much slower lenses at 4.5 and 5.6

Invest in a sturdy tripod, window mount and a remote control-cable like the Nikon MC-36 Multi-Function Remote Cord or the Nikon ML-3 Compact Modulite Remote. Purchase apps that will give you forecasts, storm alerts and how many bolts a storm is producing. Wx Alert USA and Radar Scope are my favorites to use on my iPhone. I use WeatherTAP on my desktop.

What’s invaluable about shooting lightning with a DSLR is that you can immediately review your shot on the LCD and then have several adjustment options to get the image you want. Using a DSLR to photograph lightning vastly improved my success rate.

Lightning strikes at sunset during a thunderstorm near Lemmon, South Dakota on June 27, 2001.

Camera Settings to Get Started

When shooting lightning, I usually set my camera to manual exposure: 3D Color Matrix Metering and put the white balance on auto. Whether I’m shooting with a cable release or remote control, I usually start by setting the shutter to BULB, the aperture to f/5.6, and ISO to 400. Focus is manual.

As soon as the lightning occurs, I close the shutter. After reviewing the first few images on the LCD, I begin making changes. If the lightning is brighter than anticipated and results in overexposure, I change the ISO to 320 or 250. If the lightning is dimmer than anticipated and results in an underexposure, I change the ISO to 640 or 800.

My secret to sharp lightning images is to have the shutter open for the shortest possible time—unless, of course, you’re trying to capture multiple lightning bolts. The less time your shutter is open = sharper lightning images. One tool I use that helps me achieve this is the Lightning Trigger, a hot shoe-mounted device that plugs into the camera’s 10-pin connector port. The lightning trigger causes the shutter to open just when lightning strikes. But: you still need to set ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and white balance. I usually start out by setting my camera to Shutter Priority at 1/4 second, the ISO at 250, white balance to auto, and adjust from there.

A supercell thunderstorm produces cloud-to-ground lightning during astronomical twilight.

Keeping You and Your Gear Safe

Lightning is one of the most dangerous natural phenomena to photograph. Personally, I’ve had several close calls with my hair standing up and count my blessings. One simple rule you should always keep in mind: if you can hear thunder, you’re vulnerable to being struck by lightning.

If a storm is producing a lot of fairly close cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, I stay inside my hard-topped vehicle and use a window mount, or I quickly set up my camera on a tripod and then operate the camera remotely from inside the vehicle.

Before you try photographing lightning, you should review National Weather Service lightning safety tips.

If you’re ever unsure about what to do, ALWAYS YIELD TO BEING SAFE. The more you learn about the subject, the safer and more successful you’ll be.

A Few More Good Tips

Always turn off the autofocus. When shooting lightning, you’ll want to use manual focus. Automatically setting your lens to infinity won’t always give you the sharpest image. Look for a distant light and focus on it. This will result in sharper-looking bolts. If you don’t have a distant light, have a friend walk at least 100 feet away from the camera with a flashlight. Then focus on the lens of the flashlight.

Try to shoot lightning that’s ahead of the storm or away from the heaviest rainfall. Moisture, especially precipitation, can soften the look of a lightning image, even when the focus is correct.

Always compose your shot with care. Try to frame the image with as few potentially distracting elements as possible, such as power lines, traffic, and airplanes.

A lightning image captured with patience and skill, including proper exposure, is likely to have a stronger impact. People will look at your photo and say, “Wow!”

A lone lightning bolt strikes the ground beneath an isolated supercell thunderstorm at sunset.

About the author: Jim Reed is an award-winning extreme weather photographer based in the United States. You can find more of his work on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

How to Photograph Lightning: Helpful Tips for Nailing the Shot

Lightning is an amazing subject to try and photograph. Dazzling. Unpredictable. Fulfilling. I’ve been documenting the long arm of Zeus for more than two decades and still love it. First using transparencies and negatives, then digital. There are many ways to be creative when it comes to photographing lightning.

Lightning can occur during any season, even winter. In fact, winter storms can produce lightning and thundersnow, so don’t stop shooting just because it’s cold outside – embrace it!

To help with this, I’ve compiled my top tips for capturing lightning on camera, from understanding how to shoot different types, to the gear you need in the field.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning over eastern Wyoming.

Different Kinds of Lightning

In my experience, there are four distinct ways of classifying lightning relevant to photography: type, intensity, pattern, and color.

TYPE: Cloud-to-ground, cloud-to-cloud, and intra-cloud lightning are the three types of lightning I witness and shoot most frequently. A cloud-to-ground bolt descends from the thunderstorm usually striking something beneath it. A cloud-to-cloud bolt wriggles across the sky and typically doesn’t strike anything. An intra-cloud bolt occurs inside a cloud and is usually hard to see except for the burst-like flash it creates. Some storms produce multiple flashes per second.

The type of lightning occurring will help me decide what lens to use. If it’s a cloud-to-ground bolt, I will likely use a NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G to capture a landscape shot. If it’s several cloud-to-cloud bolts overhead, I might use an NIKKOR 14mm f/2.8D ED and aim straight up. If the storm is producing intra-cloud lightning with nothing else of interest around it, I might use an NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II or an NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens to zero in on the cloud.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning wriggles across the sky at night.

INTENSITY: The intensity of a lightning bolt is especially important to photography. Just how bright I anticipate a bolt to be helps me to set a proper exposure, from ISO to shutter speed. As a storm approaches, I actually study it for a few minutes before ever snapping a frame. How often is the lightning striking? Is the forth or fifth bolt usually the brightest? Shooting with a DSLR allows you to immediately review each image on the camera’s LCD and fine-tune your settings until you get the shot that you want.

Intra-cloud lightning.

PATTERN: One of my favorite lightning objectives is to capture a lone, very clean, cloud-to-ground bolt. I like the stark simplicity. When trying to create a fine-art image, this type of bolt works best in my opinion.

A cloud-to-ground lightning bolt strikes a rural community at sunset.

COLOR: Lightning can strike in a variety of colors. The most common color of lightning is white, but lightning can actually appear red, yellow, green, even blue or purple. The hue usually depends on gases, chemicals, and impurities in the atmosphere, as well as the actual temperature of the lightning bolt. Vivid white lightning is most common. Orange or reddish-colored lightning can occur if there’s a large concentration of dust or pollution in the air. Hailstones in a storm can make lightning appear a purplish color, sometimes even blue. Sodium vapor lamps in a city can also influence the color of lightning, giving it a bluish-green appearance.

Lightning slices through a fiery red sky during a severe thunderstorm at sunset. The unusual color was caused by dust particles in the air. Drought conditions and high winds contributed to the phenomena.

The Best Time to Shoot

Obviously we need a thunderstorm, but not all thunderstorms occur at night. I like shooting at different times of the day. It’s fairly common to capture lightning after dark, but how about a bolt during the day, at sunset or even twilight? Shooting at times other than just pitch black will help bring color and style to your image.

Lightning wriggles across the sky and strikes the ground.

Choosing Gear

I recommend you start by using a DSLR. Buy the lowest noise-producing camera you can afford. The Nikon D810 and D3S are two of my favorites. On a tight budget or just getting started? I like the D3400.

Buy the fastest lens you can afford. The NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, and NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II are my three favorites for shooting lightning. But choosing a lens is subjective. Do you want to zoom in and create a close-up of a single lightning bolt or do you use a wide-angle lens to capture zigzagging bolts overhead? The faster the lens, 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8, the better for shooting in existing light conditions, but I have photographed lightning using much slower lenses at 4.5 and 5.6

Invest in a sturdy tripod, window mount and a remote control-cable like the Nikon MC-36 Multi-Function Remote Cord or the Nikon ML-3 Compact Modulite Remote. Purchase apps that will give you forecasts, storm alerts and how many bolts a storm is producing. Wx Alert USA and Radar Scope are my favorites to use on my iPhone. I use WeatherTAP on my desktop.

What’s invaluable about shooting lightning with a DSLR is that you can immediately review your shot on the LCD and then have several adjustment options to get the image you want. Using a DSLR to photograph lightning vastly improved my success rate.

Lightning strikes at sunset during a thunderstorm near Lemmon, South Dakota on June 27, 2001.

Camera Settings to Get Started

When shooting lightning, I usually set my camera to manual exposure: 3D Color Matrix Metering and put the white balance on auto. Whether I’m shooting with a cable release or remote control, I usually start by setting the shutter to BULB, the aperture to f/5.6, and ISO to 400. Focus is manual.

As soon as the lightning occurs, I close the shutter. After reviewing the first few images on the LCD, I begin making changes. If the lightning is brighter than anticipated and results in overexposure, I change the ISO to 320 or 250. If the lightning is dimmer than anticipated and results in an underexposure, I change the ISO to 640 or 800.

My secret to sharp lightning images is to have the shutter open for the shortest possible time—unless, of course, you’re trying to capture multiple lightning bolts. The less time your shutter is open = sharper lightning images. One tool I use that helps me achieve this is the Lightning Trigger, a hot shoe-mounted device that plugs into the camera’s 10-pin connector port. The lightning trigger causes the shutter to open just when lightning strikes. But: you still need to set ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and white balance. I usually start out by setting my camera to Shutter Priority at 1/4 second, the ISO at 250, white balance to auto, and adjust from there.

A supercell thunderstorm produces cloud-to-ground lightning during astronomical twilight.

Keeping You and Your Gear Safe

Lightning is one of the most dangerous natural phenomena to photograph. Personally, I’ve had several close calls with my hair standing up and count my blessings. One simple rule you should always keep in mind: if you can hear thunder, you’re vulnerable to being struck by lightning.

If a storm is producing a lot of fairly close cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, I stay inside my hard-topped vehicle and use a window mount, or I quickly set up my camera on a tripod and then operate the camera remotely from inside the vehicle.

Before you try photographing lightning, you should review National Weather Service lightning safety tips.

If you’re ever unsure about what to do, ALWAYS YIELD TO BEING SAFE. The more you learn about the subject, the safer and more successful you’ll be.

A Few More Good Tips

Always turn off the autofocus. When shooting lightning, you’ll want to use manual focus. Automatically setting your lens to infinity won’t always give you the sharpest image. Look for a distant light and focus on it. This will result in sharper-looking bolts. If you don’t have a distant light, have a friend walk at least 100 feet away from the camera with a flashlight. Then focus on the lens of the flashlight.

Try to shoot lightning that’s ahead of the storm or away from the heaviest rainfall. Moisture, especially precipitation, can soften the look of a lightning image, even when the focus is correct.

Always compose your shot with care. Try to frame the image with as few potentially distracting elements as possible, such as power lines, traffic, and airplanes.

A lightning image captured with patience and skill, including proper exposure, is likely to have a stronger impact. People will look at your photo and say, “Wow!”

A lone lightning bolt strikes the ground beneath an isolated supercell thunderstorm at sunset.

About the author: Jim Reed is an award-winning extreme weather photographer based in the United States. You can find more of his work on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.