Safety when photographing lightning?

robgilmore

Enthusiast
Jul 27, 2019
2
2
1
suffolk UK
I go out in a soft top Land Rover, its basically a buscuit tin on wheels, I went out a few days ago to take some photos during a storm, within minutes it was right ontop of us, it was fairly scary, lightning all around us. Am I in any danger doing this? Locations are mostly open, flat countryside.
 
Jan 6, 2019
86
36
6
Tyler
Am I in any danger doing this?
Yes.
Your not totally enclosed with metal in a rag top.
Equate your ride to a motorcycle rider, not too uncommon for them to get struck and killed.
Any rubber tires on vehicles have already been proven to not insulate the vehicle from a strike.
What the the auto/truck has going for it is your enclosed with metal roof over you head to sink that strike away from you.
 
Mar 2, 2004
2,335
519
11
Wichita, KS
www.facebook.com
My car trick and tip for shooting lightning is to get a hatch back. If the lightning is close I set up my camera on my tripod under the hatch tail gate and sit in the trunk. Also provides shelter to the camera when it is windy and raining.
I do the same... I have a 2016 Forester and pop the hatch up and use that as a shelter while I sit in the car... obviously it's not 100% safe, but it does offer some protection AND can give you a little portable shelter from rain and wind. Another thing I have done a couple of times, particularly if I am needing to remain mobile or the lightning is just too close for comfort, I got a window mount that I can put the camera on and shoot from there without even having to leave the driver's seat. It's not the best as it is more sensitive to vehicle movement than say it being outside on a tripod, but it's good in a pinch.

A couple other techniques I've used in the past... wifi remote to the camera. I will set it outside my car on the tripod (and rain gear if needed) and use the remote shutter to take the pictures and can be totally closed off in my car. I've run the cable release through a crack in the car window before as well (this won't do you much good if the camera gets hit). Also, you COULD try and have your camera automatically take pictures, so set it to take X-number of pictures on the settings you want and let it just go through however many pictures you program it to take. A few out-of-the-box methods if absolutely need be.
 
Sep 7, 2013
683
537
21
Strasburg, CO
Another vote for chilling in the hatch using the door as an awning.

I also use a remote for the cameras, but thats more about not risking shake than worrying about lightning.
 
I do the same... I have a 2016 Forester and pop the hatch up and use that as a shelter while I sit in the car... obviously it's not 100% safe, but it does offer some protection AND can give you a little portable shelter from rain and wind. Another thing I have done a couple of times, particularly if I am needing to remain mobile or the lightning is just too close for comfort, I got a window mount that I can put the camera on and shoot from there without even having to leave the driver's seat. It's not the best as it is more sensitive to vehicle movement than say it being outside on a tripod, but it's good in a pinch.

A couple other techniques I've used in the past... wifi remote to the camera. I will set it outside my car on the tripod (and rain gear if needed) and use the remote shutter to take the pictures and can be totally closed off in my car. I've run the cable release through a crack in the car window before as well (this won't do you much good if the camera gets hit). Also, you COULD try and have your camera automatically take pictures, so set it to take X-number of pictures on the settings you want and let it just go through however many pictures you program it to take. A few out-of-the-box methods if absolutely need be.
Of course we both use the Subura Forester :) - The gate height adjuster can be of use too.
I did have a window mount but I didn't trust it with my heavier gear, plus car vibrations from the running engine and wind don't help.
And like Tony said a cable release that continues to trigger the shutter is a good option too. I have a cheap rain cover that cost $20 using velcro, but worst case scenario a clear shower cap can be grabbed from some hotels bathrooms for free!
 

Moe E

EF0
Apr 3, 2020
16
26
1
Colorado
I've had good results shooting through the windshield with a CP filter (see profile pic). Then again I am more paranoid of lightning than most as I was very nearly struck a few years ago when hiking (caused my hiking boots to split), so you probably won't see me doing the awning trick unless it's far enough away.
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
352
143
6
Colorado
My place for videoing lightning at home is....sitting on the roof, near the peak (obviously only if its not raining)

There was one storm I saw last September while driving home from an event...I wanted to pull over & video the lightning, because it was putting down some great looking strikes! , but there wasn't a good spot to do so. (I'd planned to simply stand by the car with the camera. I had no fear of the storm (was far enough back it wasn't raining, & couldn't hear the thunder)). Once I'd driven far enough that I was under the storm & its heavy pouring rain, I wouldn't have bothered stopping to video. Lightning seemed to be mainly along the leading edge of it anyway, just rain farther back.