How to Capture Great Storm Photos

Use these tips and tricks to capture amazing photos of lightning and storms.

If you have ever tried to photograph a lightning strike or other weather event, you know it can be tricky. Whether you are a true storm chaser or just want to get some cool shots of amazing skies, here are some tips to help you bring your photos to life.


Using a longer exposure will increase your chances of capturing lightning. If you have a tripod handy you’ll want to grab that as well to stop shaking hands from ruining your shot.

Use a 30-second exposure, and if your camera has a Bulb setting, keep the shutter open for the best chance at catching lightning. Capturing lightning during the day will often lead to overexposed skies, so you’ll get the best shots in the evening.

Time It Right

Determining when to take the shot is tricky. Light travels faster than sound, so by the time you hear thunder you’ve already missed the shot. Wait until you hear thunder then count the time between that and a lightning strike. This will give you a rough estimate of when to take the next shot.

If the time between thunder and the next lightning decreases, it means the storm is probably moving towards you – making the strikes more frequent.

Stay Focused

Especially in darker conditions, trying to use autofocus may not work out well. If you are having difficulty, focus manually. Use a card to cover the lens and remove it when you think the lighting is about to strike. Once the lighting strikes put the card back over the lens.

Using a smaller aperture, f/16 or f/22 will also improve your lightning shots if you have that option.

Don’t Let Clouds Ruin Your Day

Even if you don’t get lightning, storm clouds are a great shot to capture too. They can be much more thought-provoking, and if shot correctly, you’ll love the way they turn out.

Use objects such as trees on the horizon line to enhance your shots. This method adds scale to the photo and will enhance the size of the storm clouds above. Photographing storms, no matter what events are occurring can be both fascinating and rewarding!

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Written by
Kristy Shaver
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Written by Kristy Shaver