Recommended camera settings for Lightning photography

Lightning is one of the most uncertain kind of photography, little camera settings can either make a great picture or it can ruin it. Make sure if you are investing your time, it is worth all the efforts. Here are a few tips which will make our lightning photography much better and worth all your time.

How to focus?

Do not go for autofocus when shooting in dark. You need sharp pictures and most of the cameras do not autofocus in dark. Make sure you shoot on manual. Shoot some test shots until your picture looks sharp on the LCD. Focus on infinity because lightning is unpredictable and it will help you acquire a bigger area.



Set your ISO to the lowest level. It will not brighten up the lightning and give you very natural yet dramatic pictures.

Go for manual

Do not depend on your camera in a sensitive shot like this. Most of the cameras do not work in auto mode in low light, they tend to make the lightning extra bright which results in a highly exposed picture.

Shutter Speed

A slower shutter speed (5-30secs) will allow you to capture the lightning in its full form. It might brighten up the light a little but it will allow more than one lightning strike in a single click. Take a note that slower shutter speed will not result in dramatic silhouettes but it will give you a great picture of lightning in full form.

Faster shutter speed ( 1-4 secs) will allow you to capture those dramatic silhouettes but it will make the whole capturing process a little harder. It is already hard to capture lightning. 

External device

You can also add an external device like a lightning trigger. It will make the process easier. As the device will detect the lighting and set the exposure accordingly.


Try to make a frame where the sky covers a major area rather than the background. Your picture might not look good in the viewfinder at first but when the lightning strikes it will balance the exposure.

Apart from all the uncertainty it shows, you can make a great lighting picture just by following these steps. Lightning photography requires a lot of patience and attentiveness, make sure you are well-rested and energetic while conducting a lightning shoot.

- Blog by Harshita Sharma

Back to blog