Capturing that perfect bolt, explained.

Get a front-row seat on how the inner-workings come together chasing the ultimate thunderbolt. Whether trekking through spongy swamps or sandy beaches, shooting lightning takes precision and patience. Lucky for us, here's four tips from photo enthusiast Alex Brock who claims it's only a hobby for now, but we think it's a matter of time before he takes his passion to the next level. 

Dusk Lightning 

  • Settings: 6s, f/16, ISO 100
  • Lens: Tokina 11-16mm

Since this was shot during dusk and I was, by my own admission, entirely too close to this storm, I had shorten the exposure quite a bit and narrow the aperture and keep my ISO at the base. Shutter release cable really comes in handy here, especially for these shorter exposure times.

Beach Lightning 

  • Settings: 10s, f/4, ISO 400
  • Lens: Tokina 11-16mm

Taken at night and the storm was drifting further offshore so I had use a pretty wide aperture and bump the ISO a bit. Obviously you wanna be careful with this because too much and you’ll blow it out but you’ll get a handle on the balance after a while. I try and keep exposure times down below 20 seconds because I feel like I get better detail from the bolt. There’s not much backing that up… just some weird prejudice I have.

Ocean Lightning 

  • Settings: 20s, f/10, ISO 400
  • Lens: EF-S 18-135mm (shot at 45mm)

This one was shot a bit differently because as this cell was moving offshore I used my stock zoom lens to get tighter on the part of the cell putting down lightning. Narrowed the aperture a bit and it seemed to work out pretty well. I got lucky because it’s tough to get real tight on a cell and get a strike in the frame.

Okeeechobee Lightning 

  • Settings: 10s, f/10, ISO 200
  • Lens: Tokina 11-16mm

This strike was huge. This storm was drifting away from me and by this time it was quite far and I wasn’t expecting to get anything else out of it but it put down one last major bolt. Wish I had been closer (maybe) but somehow the settings worked out in my favor as I had left them on what they were set for when the cell was closer to me. It was pretty dark and had a narrow app and low ISO but the strike was so huge and bright it came out okay.

There you have it. Be sure to keep up with this adventure-shooting risk taker as he seeks the perfect flash for storms to come.