Lightning…it’s very, very frightening!

I went into Venice last night as the sun had come out nicely and it looked as though it was going to be a really nice evening and night. My plan was to go to the Fondamenta Salute which is as far as you can walk to the southern end of the Grande Canal and you’re looking directly across at San Marco square, and on the other side is San Giorgio Maggiore island with it’s lovely church and bell tower. I also wanted some nice general night shots of Venice as I don’t have any yet.

Photo of sunset in Venice
Sunset in Venice

However as I got to Fondamenta Zattere Al Ponte Lungo which is the path that is the southern most edge of Venice’s main island, I could see an amazing sunset behind me and a very dark sky developing in front of me.

This view shows it clearly, the sunset and the sky building up above the Giudecca and the famous Hilton Molino Stucky Venice hotel.

The boat at the right of the frame is a cruise ship, there’s a permanent terminal here and many of them are bigger than the tallest buildings in Venice.

Anyway, I continued toward Fondamenta Salute and as I approached there was some terrific lightning and after only 5 minutes I decided to concentrate on that instead. I swapped to the wide angle lens and set the tripod so I could quickly swing between San Giorgio Maggiore and La Giudecca as they both have interesting buildings which would make for a great scene if I caught the lightning.

I initially set the camera at ISO 100, f8 and the exposure times were between 5 and 15 seconds and I’m pleased I set up as the lightning was amazing!
I quickly changed the settings and used mostly ISO 200, f9 and 8 seconds. I was simply firing off shots one after the other, hoping that the lightning would strike whilst the shutter was open. I’ve never photographed lightning before so I was very pleased with the results…here are a few of them:

MK3_4128 MK3_4132 MK3_4173 MK3_4178Needless to say…I am over the moon! I could see the brief review of each image in the back of the camera for a split second til I pressed the shutter again and I knew I’d got at least 2 decent ones. Some didn’t come out at all and I think I had the settings too long so some brief flashes got burned out by the light that was still around in the sky.

I was constantly changing the settings to see quickly which might work and which wouldn’t but each time I did this there was a bolt and I was scared I was going to miss the best ones. I had no idea at the time, but this display went on for over 2 hours. There were still some bright flashes as I was getting the bus later on and even though I knew I had a few decent shots by then I felt like staying to get more.

At one point I changed my ISO to 12800. This is a ridiculously high ISO and results in tons of noise but I wanted to get a decent shot of a ship in front of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. The shutter speed was now 1/6th of a second and I had only taken 3 when on the fourth one…look what I got!  <<  Amazing, I could barely believe my luck so quickly changed the settings back again.

I think this may be my favourite though. This was one flash of lightning, a real cracker which lit the sky and everything around me. I could even hear squealing and wooping coming from people in San Marco square across the canal, about 400 yards away!

All in all a brilliant night and although I got nothing I’d intended to, I’m amazed and thrilled at what I did get. Go me! 🙂

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2 thoughts to “Lightning…it’s very, very frightening!”

    1. Thanks Tim 🙂
      The settings were mostly different because of the rapidly changing circumstances. I think the best one that came out was 5 secs at f8, ISO 400 and I was using a 17-40 zoom at 17mm. If you want exif for a particulr one juts ask 🙂

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