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Friday, June 25, 2010

Photographing Lighting Effectively

Summer is officially here in the northern hemisphere and with the beautiful weather also comes the dangerous thunderstorms. In the last few days there have been multiple severe storms that have produced flooding in many Wisconsin counties. Yet for some courageous storm chasers the thrill of a lifetime is grabbing the camera and driving directly into the storm. Human beings have always appreciated the beauty of lighting bolt but capturing the essence of a storm in a picture can be extremely challenging for even the best photographer.

In order to get the best quality pictures, here are a few helpful tips to ensuring quality photographs.

Rule # 1 Always use the manual settings on your camera. While some point and shoot cameras are sufficient with manual controls, all dSLR cameras will have manual controls and give great quality results. Setting the manual focus is probably the most critical because of the low amount of lighting during a storm is difficult for auto focusing.

Rule # 2 Shoot in the RAW file format. Using the RAW format gives more information to use in editing the pictures later. On the flip side, RAW files are several times larger than JPG files so make sure you bring enough memory cards.

Rule # 3 Always use a sturdy tripod. Ideally it will have a quick release head so you can remove the camera on and off quickly if needed. There are several companies that make rigs to hold an umbrella over the tripod. You can, with a few clamps,a create an umbrella mount of your own to protect from the rain. Entry-level dSLRs are very sensitive to moisture and can be in need of repairs or even ruined with minimal rain exposure.

Rule # 4 Use the lowest ISO setting which is usually ISO 100 or ISO 200. This gives the best detail due to the low noise of the sensor.

Rule # 5 Experiment with shutter speeds between 5 and 30 seconds. Lighting travels the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second. Leaving the shutter open for several seconds allows time for the lighting bolt to be captured by the sensor. Because the night sky is dark, a long shutter speed is effective in capturing the lighting’s path.

Rule # 6 Try setting the aperture around f/8 and f/16. This helps allow for a greater depth of field which increases the focusing sharpness of photograph.

Rule # 7 Use a timed release shutter or a remote shutter release to avoid touching the camera during the exposure. This allows the camera to remain steady during the entire exposure which avoids the possibility of motion blur.

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