Lots of luck, a little skill, and the right equipment!
During most of the summer, when I saw threatening clouds crossing the Tetons, I made it a point to get out for a “chance” at photographing lightning bolts against familiar subjects. On most occasions, I came up empty. You have to be somewhere near the leading edge of a storm and conditions have to be just right. For example, it can get windy and rain can be blowing directly into your lenses as the front comes through. Other times, it looks perfect, but there might be one random bolt and then nothing else.
The two images above were taken on the same afternoon. Actually, I captured quite a few bolts that day, but I liked these two best.
I caught this one last year at the south Moulton Barn.
This bolt was captured at the Homestead along Mormon Row on the same afternoon.
I captured this bolt as it hit Teewinot and then spread across the entire valley.
Equipment: All of these images were captured with Nikon bodies and lenses on a steady tripod. Quite a few years ago, I bought an “AEO Lightning Trigger” and have been using it all along. This year, I bought their newer version, LIGHTNING STRIKE! Micro PRO 3.0 for $237. I kept my old one, which works fine. The new one is smaller and has a few new features. Visit their web site for tutorials, photos, safety warnings, and so forth. The lightning triggers automatically trigger the camera when it detects a lightning bolt. It seldom catches THE bolt, but instead opens the shutter to catch either long bolts of lightning or the bolt that happens a split second behind the first one. I like going to the barns because I can set up the camera(s) and sit in the truck until the rain starts. I don’t like being out in a pasture or in the sagebrush with lightning going off all around—or to have to go out to get the equipment when the storm actually hits. After purchasing the second trigger, I now set up two bodies and two tripods, usually aiming in different directions.
Please Note: All of the images on this page are fully copyrighted with the US Copyright Office. ©2013 Mike R. Jackson – All Rights Reserved