Finally, after a week of false weather forecasts the lightning storms have returned, which means that I, am outside waiting for the lightning, and experimenting with methods of shooting. I immediately realized there were a a few points I needed to figure out.
1. Lightning is unpredictable.
2. Lightning is bright, but not bright enough to be caught easily during the day.
3. When lightning strikes multiple times during one long exposure the light from the different strikes dull the sharpness of the image, giving the the bolts in the image a washed out look.
To address these points I used a small tripod, a book (any small book will do), and some specific lens setting.
First I set my camera on a tripod and pointed it in the general direction where the lighting was most common.
Then I manually adjusted my focal length to infinity (the farthest distance the lens would focus) which to my surprise was not just turning the focus dial all the way in one direction.
My aperture had to be wide open to let in as much light as I could in the dark, and my expire time was set for 30 seconds.
I finished my camera settings, then pressed the shutter button. I heard the shutter open and waited. The moment I saw a lightning flash which looked large enough to make a good picture, I placed a book in front of the lens to block out all other light for the remainder of the 30 seconds. I had mixed feeling about this at first since sometimes, the moment I held the book in front of the lens, a larger even more twisted bolt of light flashed right after the one I had just seen. I missed those shots, but keeping the book in front of the lens made the images I had much sharper.
All the shots came out with a purple tinge. I don’t generally think of lightning as purple, but who am I to judge. Still I tweaked the contrast afterwards to accentuate the lightning bolts, and made a sepia copy for fun.