.: Storm Photography :.

Day time storm photography is pretty straight forward especially with newer digital camera which are now in abundance . Storm features such as gust fronts, anvils, chunky updrafts make for some great photos!

One tool you cant go without is a Polarising Filter. These filters cut glare from reflective surfaces such as water, increase colour saturation in bright scenes, and enhance contrast of clouds against a bright sky. Polarisers work best when used in bright sunlight with the sun at 90 to your left or right. If you are unable to get a polarising filter for your camera or you forget yours a craftily placed pair of polarising sun glasses will do just fine!

Gust Front approaching Darwin Anvil to the west Chunky updraft in the rural areas
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Lightning photography isn't as hard as some people might think. All SLR and Digital SLR cameras are capable of capturing lightning and, unknown to many, Most current cheaper digital cameras are also able to do a similar job. The most important feature for taking lightning pics is the ability to control the *exposure time or shutter speed. Most current digital camera are able to open the shutter for up to 5 seconds some even go up to 30 seconds! If your also able to control the *aperture or F stop that is also an advantage. Have a look at your cameras manual and if its got Tv mode (Manual exposure control) or M mode (Full Manual control) you should be able to get some good pics. Another feature you can play with on digital camera is the *ISO or film speed setting.

The most important tool you will need is a tripod or a very sturdy surface to position your camera as even the slightest movement on a 2 second exposure will end up with blury results.  First thing first SWITCH YOUR FLASH OFF then set your camera to its manual mode If your camera has manual focus set it to the furthest setting it has if not, hope for the best! Once you are focused you need to adjust the Exposure and Aperture settings to get the desired settings based  on how close the lightning is and how often it is striking. A general rule of thumb I use is if its close and rapid use a faster shutter speed (For example 5 seconds) and a lower F Stop (for example 5 or 6) if its close and sporadic try a slower shutter speed (10 - 15 seconds) and a lower F Stop (5 - 6) if its distant and rapid try a faster shutter speed (5 seconds) and higher F Stop (3.5 - 5) or if distant and sporadic a long shutter speed (10-30 seconds) with a low F Stop (2.5 - 5).


Lightning shots during the day are a bit more difficult but not entirely impossible. Bright sunlight is very very hard using a Neutral Density Filter (Dark sunglasses for your camera) will help you reduce the light so you can use a longer exposure. At dawn or dusk or under shadow of dark clouds makes things a bit easier where you can get away using a slower shutter speed and lower F-stop (2 - 5 seconds and F-Stop of 8 - 16) or again the use of a lighter Neutral Density filter.

The best thing you can do is practice and experiment with settings and scenes. And what better place in Australia to practice than Darwin!


Close Rapid Strikes (10 Secs, F5, ISO50) Distant Sporadic Strikes (15secs, F3.5, ISO100) Distant Structure with moon behind clouds (15sec, F3.5, ISO400)
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*The Shutter speed or Exposure changes how long the film or CCD is exposed to the scene. *The Aperture or F Stop changes the size of the lens's iris to control the amount of light the film or CCD is exposed to. ISO or Film speed measures the light sensitivity of film On a digital camera you can select which ISO you use for each photo. Lower ISO is less sensitive to light so it needs to be exposed for longer but produces very fine results. Higher ISO speed is very sensitive to light which allows it to be exposed for less time but is usually very grainy when used in dark scenes.



All Content to Darwin Storms Team or respective contributors unless otherwise stated.