We had a storm here the other night, not with any rain, but with a great light show. I was hoping to get a shot of lightning over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and while trying to get that shot lightning kept flashing closer to the Sydney Tower. Enough was enough; I rotated the camera a few degrees and took some tower shots. This was one of them.
I did manage to get a couple of lightning shots over the bridge, but I’ll wait until I get something better before I present them here.
Workflow was as follows:
Shot about 250 pictures of the bridge and tower (by using the interval time shooter) on my camera. I set it up to shoot every 17 seconds, with a 15 second exposure for each shot, in sets of 50. Between each set I inspected and deleted the shots where there was no action (most of them).
Shot taken in Raw - NEF files adjusted for exposure and shadow
Adjusted levels – black points – most of the skew was to the left – I didn’t touch the white points as I didn’t want to accentuate that light on the bottom right any more.
Adjusted curves – for contrast – very slight (with light portion locked)
Adjusted saturation (+12) to bring out some of the colour in the lights
Added an overlay layer to allow for dodging and burning (slight)
Saved as a tiff
Cropped to 5 x 7 format, resized, added a layer for (selective) noise reduction and (selective) sharpening with USM, modified sharpening with a layer mask (30% opacity black brush), framed and saved as a jpeg.
Critiques | Translate
Traveller (672) 2007-11-22 20:28
Great job, John, really bravo, great catch! And so much work after! The little cloud is both: distracting, but at the same time useful.
Didi (60588) 2007-11-22 22:43
Very good lights management and good work to show this interesting composition.
But A little bit oversharp.
dareco (17134) 2007-11-23 1:29
FANTASTIC!! I would love to be able to get a picture like this! A perfect capture. TFS
devimeuxbe (58557) 2007-11-23 1:34
what a great capture
NIce timing, nice light
It's well done
ribeiroantonio (22637) 2007-11-23 1:43
I am yet to try my first lightning photo. I have been waiting for a storm for many months (say almost two years) but no luck at all. Your picture is really good and the lightning very clear and sharp.
Reading though your work flow, I noticed the way you set up the camera. I have the Canon 30D but it seams that I can not do such kind of setting. Do you know anything about that facility with Canon? I would be very grateful if someone can explain what to do using a Canon.
beyaz_toprak (355) 2007-11-23 5:02
Müthişşş.. paylaştığı için teşekkürler ediyorum..
lousat (92076) 2007-11-23 7:19
this pics are always beautifull,because the lightining are always different..a very good work,Luciano
linask (2930) 2007-11-23 12:14
Very clear and bright lightning. Some clouds visible around the lightning is a nice bonus.
Good detailed note.
Cormac (26565) 2007-11-23 16:31
I've never successfully captured any lighting, so I'm impressed (and jealous) when I see this! Very beautiful, and you had good technique too. Did you use an interval timer or can you set the camera to do this by itself? However it was done, the result is excellent!
Matthew-Watt (5934) 2007-11-23 18:24
I have never taken lightning shots, but this summer in Brisbane is sure to provide some good opportunities. I might email you a great series of lightning shots circulating up here that a local cameraman took from the top of one of the city towers. I have seen photo's of centrepoint being struck in the past, and there is an awesome one of Q1 getting hit (11 times in the one storm!). Nice FG and 'peeping' effect of the tallest sydney structures. Reflections are beautiful. The 15 second exposure is perfect, I will have to remember that.
humayun (2991) 2007-11-24 19:16
very nice picture.
beautiful night and lights............
rcrick (346) 2007-11-24 23:05
Nice one John, pin sharp, good detail in the lighting and clouds, well framed, also good to see you back posting, Cheers Rick :)
pierrefonds (66931) 2007-11-26 4:29
A nice image of the lightning over Sydney at night, the photo has a good composition, DOF and nice colors. Thanks for sharing.
wishlist (4133) 2007-11-26 7:31
John, how good is to see you once again!! I thought you were lost somewhere on the planet earth :o)
This is a great picture with a great moment very well captured! Compo si just perfect with the lightning on the left side of the frame and the city-lights and reflections to balance the rest of the pic. Good quality throughout
ktanska (27874) 2007-11-27 5:32
Spectacular lightning. And you were lucky to get the off-centre framing for it. Reflections of the sity match well with the lighning stripes.
ChrisJ (114735) 2007-11-28 4:21
Good graphism of the lightning against the darker, navy blue sky, in this superb decisive moment. Well done!
jplebrun (21208) 2007-11-28 10:53
superbe cliché de cette éclair capté dans la nuit, bien réussi sans pour autant surexposé le reste de la photo, bravo.
MLINES (12516) 2007-11-29 1:49
Hi John. A remarkable nocturnal photo of lightening. Good to see the use of a tripod to make it so clean. I like the balance which is dynamic. TFS. Murray.
cunejo200 (7281) 2007-11-29 3:24
What a catch. You were both lucky and good. The lightning over Sydney has good definition. Regards, Danilo
Flavia (10352) 2007-11-30 22:43
Excellent result. Good that you decided to turn your camera and so to catch this amazing light over the city.
pablominto (53746) 2007-12-18 10:18
This is an amazing image!
I have never tried to capture lightnings but I imagine it is quite difficult to get good results...
This is well done, not only is the lightning itself attractive but I also notice fine details in the city, and a well balanced composition!
pboehringer (770) 2007-12-21 14:10
John, that is exactly the type of image that I'm dreaming off. Getting some nice lighting with a good scene to complement. My other dream is a rainbow. Both are a real challenge in California, or at least where I'm locate. During summer - no rain at all - and during winter - fog and rain. Spring and autumn are inexistent.
I read attentivelly your "how to do" description that you gave Alvin. That is certainly one option, although quite laborsome and requiring some luck. The other possibility is to have a light sensor attached to the camera and as soon as the lightning goes of it also triggers your camera.
bakes888 (18499) 2008-01-07 0:18
Hi John. The beauty of digital, all those shots and no wasted film. Nice capture. Excellent composition and processing. Thanks for sharing.
scobert (5355) 2008-01-29 9:26
I love lightning shots but I am always afraid of becoming a victim of Benjamin Franklin's (lightning and key with a kite) experiment gone bad. Lightning scares me and not much else in life does. This is a fantastic and very exciting photo! Your notes are very informative also. I just don't understand why some TE photographers add little if any comments to their images. Amazing shot!
placombe (7901) 2008-02-16 18:06
One of the hardest thing to do in photography...catch lightning and you did very well. Congratulations.
alftrek (3270) 2008-04-11 0:41
I have always been wondering how others managed to be at the right spot and time to get a lightning shot. Now I learn this from your unselfish workflow notes which I always find it interesting and helpful. You have gone a long way(250 shots!) in making this shot for sharing on TE. A big thank you. A wonderful shot indeed. I am not sure my Nikon D80 will allow me to programme the shots at a fixed time interval, but I will try it out soon.
vicana (74) 2008-05-13 21:08
Great shot of a lightning! Excellent work. The electrinic lights against the dark bg coupled with the bolt of lightning, and moreover the reflections in the water, all create a stuning image.
sandpiper (6788) 2008-06-05 14:27
Cool shot, I still haven't managed to find myself in a suitable location during a storm to even try getting a lightning shot, so your lucky. Good composition.
jaywalker (16101) 2008-06-05 14:38
Hi John, An out-standing piece of timing & great use of the shutter, a wonderfully captured lightning bolt, excellent quality, kind regards Wilson.
- Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) (3159)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2007-11-21
- Categories: Daily Life, Nature
- Camera: Nikon D200, Nikkor 24-120 G VR
- Exposure: f/8, 15 seconds
- Details: Tripod: Yes
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2007-11-22 20:21