Getting that Lightning Shot


Lightning is powerful and dangerous but to many of us, it’s beautiful. We’ve all seen some good photos on social media, so how do they happen? I can tell you, it takes a lot more than a good smartphone. 

Trent Gutshall, Co-owner of the Film Center, “You’re going to need something that you can tweak the settings more than what a phone can do. “ 

He also says, “You’ll need something that is a DSLR or maybe what is called a bridge camera. It has a large zoom. But will still give you the ability to change the settings on a camera”  

 “You want to be able to have a long shutter speed,” Trent says. 

Once you have the camera the next step is knowing where to shoot safely. You don’t want to be in the middle of a field, under a tree or any other place that you will put you at risk. Instead, think about a shelter of at least a porch or a garage. And the best kind of lightning to shoot? The kind in the distance. 

Trent says, “Have it preset in your mind before the storm is happening. “ 

“You want a tripod as you will have the shutter open for a long time,” as Trent informs us.  

A tripod that’s stable enough to withstand some wind and won’t blow over in the middle of a shot. 

Trent states, “You want a remote also, so you are not touching the camera”    

That’s important, because when any bump or movement could ruin the photo. 

Now Trent talks about the settings you should set, “you want to change your focus to manual and focus it the whole way out to what’s called infinity.” 

He continues, “From there you are going to change it over to manual mode. Go to 3 to 5 seconds for the exposure. For your aperture, that’s a little f. Make sure it’s around 8.” 

“And another thing because you want the best quality of photo, you have an area called ISO. It’s the sensitivity of your sensor. Make sure it’s as low as possible.” As Trent continues to talk about settings. 

“Once the storm comes through just keep clicking it. Until a bolt happens because you are just waiting you don’t know when the bolt is happening,” says Trent. 

Trent on the speed of lightning, “Lightning is traveling at 10/1000th of a second. So as long as your shutter is open it will capture your bolt 100%.” 

Remember to send in those photos to our Facebook page or through  Just be safe. If you want to practice with your camera you can find these instructions, plus how to shoot clouds, on our website. You can also contact the Film Center to learn what your camera can do for you. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss