Archive for January, 2012

… today I was the statue.

Thunder woke me about 0330am and I decided it would be a good idea to get up and try and get some lightning shots. The plan was simple, head down to Mersey Point jetty, set up the tripod and take photos until dawn to capture the lightning and then at dawn hopefully get some nice light on the jetty to get the baseline shot. Then back home to the merge the best shots into one in Photoshop.

I got there and set up the composition I wanted, took one test shot and then right on queue the jetty’s floodlights come on and ruin the whole show. There was nothing of interest behind the jetty so I had to content myself with less interesting angles to try and avoid floodlights that the London blitz would have been proud of. Of course where was all the lightning – to the west and behind the lights. So for 2 hours I stood and shot photos and watched incredible lightning strikes everywhere except where my lens was pointed. Of the 400 photos I took only 15 actually captured lightning, but that’s the way it goes. Oh, of course I got saturated on the walk home, that goes without saying.

So what was the plan:

I set the camera up (ISO 200) and took continuous 30sec exposures at f4. As dawn approached I changed the aperture setting to maximise the exposure time.  Once back at home and out of the rain I kept the best shot of the jetty as my background shot and overlayed the shots with lightning in them.  Using Photoshop CS5 I masked all but the lightning strikes.

What did I learn:

The exercise wasn’t a complete waste and I learnt a couple of important things. Firstly I found that f4 at night was too wide and the lightning strikes were over exposed. But by dawn with the extra ambient light the camera’s recommended exposure was adequate to capture the lightning strikes. The other thing I learnt was not to change the settings until you’ve finished taking a set of photos. I did and had trouble blending the photos later in Photoshop due to the different exposures.

Just have to wait for another storm now and hopefully the lightning will be a little more co-operative next time.

Mersey Point Jetty. 5 photo blend


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