How to photograph lightning with your iPhone

iPhone Photography Series

Lightning photography is all about timing. If you’re shooting 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, I’ll show you several techniques about how to photograph lightning with your iPhone…


Quick Release

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

Turn HDR On

If you remember back to another early lesson, you know that 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. Just make sure you have ‘Save Original Image’ set to ‘On’ in your camera settings.

Lock Your Exposure and Focus

You don’t want your iPhone making any decisions when you take the photo, that will slow it down, so make sure you lock your exposure and focus before hand.

Watch The Scene, Not The 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 entire scene and anticipate the next bolt. When you see the flash, just release the shutter.

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, corp your composition in post production.

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.

By now, you know what to do. If you happen to have a get that great shot of a lightning bolt, tag your photos with #iDBLightning so we call see them. Storm season is almost over here in Colorado, but I’ll try to get some so feel free to follow me in Instagram (@JustinBalog) as I chase a few storms.