How to photograph lightning with your iPhone

Lightning photography is all about timing. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, you can use all sorts of tricks, like super-long exposures and lightning triggers. With our mobile phones, we have to be a bit more creative. I thought I would share a few quick tips to improve your chances of photographing nature that happens in a fraction of a second.

In this iPhone photography lesson, we will show you several techniques about how to photograph lightning with your iPhone.

Taking picture of lightning with iPhone

1. Quick release

The easiest way to improve your chances of catching a lightning bolt is to make sure you are ready to release the shutter quickly. Remember, the iPhone camera actually shoots the photo when you release the shutter button, not when you press it. That being said, make sure your finger is on the trigger, then pull it off when you see the flash.

2. Turn on HDR

When HDR is enabled, your iPhone is going to take a bunch of images and blend the exposures. Taking a bunch of images with one click is a great way to tilt the odds in your favor. To enable HDR on your iPhone, go to Settings > Camera and enable Smart HDR.

3. Take burst images

If it’s raining cats and dogs with frequent lightning, you can also shoot burst mode photos which will take many pictures in a fraction of a second, and one or few of them is sure to take a good shot of the flashing lightning bolt!

4. Lock your exposure and focus

You don’t want your iPhone making any decisions when you take the photo, as that may slow it down. So make sure you lock your exposure and focus beforehand.

5. Watch the scene, not the iPhone screen

You’ll be tempted to watch the screen as you wait for the next flash, but it’s better to watch the scene in the distance with your own eyes. That way, you can see the entire scene and anticipate the next bolt. When you see the flash, just release the camera shutter button.

6. Crop, don’t zoom

With lightning, you have to play it safe and be far from the storm. Because you are far away, you’ll probably want to zoom in a bit to get a better composition. Don’t! You never know where that next bolt is going to come from, so try to get as much landscape as you can in the shot. Then, after you have captured the bolt, crop your composition in post-production.

7. Take a video or time-lapse

If you can’t seem to take a good snap of the lightning, place your iPhone on a tripod or a stand and set it to record a video or a time-lapse. This is sure to capture the lightning.

Be Safe

Lightning is no joke and needs to be respected. Don’t take any chances. If you have any questions about lightning safety, make sure you read this CDC guide.

By now, you know what to do. If you happen to get that great shot of a lightning bolt, tag @iDownloadBlog on Twitter or Instagram with your photos, so we can see them.

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