Skip to main content

Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 19 of 21

Photographing Lightning


Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 19 of 21

Photographing Lightning


Lesson Info

Photographing Lightning

So let's, talk about lightning it's happening this time of year, especially around band. I don't know if you get much lightning in this part of the world or not it's a little closer to the to the ocean here, but I was coming back from arizona or going through arizona at the time, and there was a cell that was just kicking down all kinds of lightning, so I stopped an overpass got out, put out the camera, and I have a thing called a, um lightning bug, and I have also a lightning trigger, so I set it all up and what it does in the middle of the day, the flash of the light and the infrared and radio signal, it comes out of a flash like that sets this thing off, and it fires a camera in the middle of the day and you can actually capture lightning. You don't have to wait at night and then open up the lens and let the record itself you can actually record it. So I put it out there and I took a whole series of pictures and then with lightning was going on a lot, and it was actually nine pictur...

es that I took or the nine that I kept here, and what I've done is I put them all together into one picture. This is maybe a fifteen twenty minute session on don't happen that often. That camera is on a tripod, it's not moving anywhere. So all of these images the base underneath, it stays the same it's, where the flashes are and where the clouds change but there is a blend mode in and photo shop. The older photo shop has it's called lighter color blend mode, and the newer photo shop is just called lytton. And if you have these things at all match, you bring them all into their you highlight all of them, and you hit the blend mode at the top and bingo, they all go together. We use this for all kinds of different things and knowing your blend modes I now refer you back to previous creative life programs about light room and about mostly in this case, about photo shop, and you could put this stuff together, and it just drops right in. So it really is a a wonderful way to work and it's no different, if some might say, well, that's cheating it's not because when we normally have shot lightning it's at dusk, we open up the camera for, like thirty seconds, and whatever strikes during that time or maybe it's two minutes or three minutes, we record all those pieces of lightning, and we think that it's all one moment it's not one moment is over a course of time and that's the same thing I'm doing, but it's in the middle of the day, and these new lightning trigger things make that possible. Now this is in bend from is a place called a pilot butte in the middle of sort of in the middle of town, and when there is lightning, I go up at the top of pilot butte, and I set up my cameras and everything with these triggers, and then I get back in the car and I watch all these people walking around and waiting for a big strike of lightning at the top of this hill, which is good chance, but anyway, the lightning trigger captures these. We've got three or four different lightning strikes, all within one shot looking over towards mount bachelor there's, some really big strikes when when evening that I was up there, I've converted to black and white because the colors didn't match that well, but those strikes were just massive in something like that and that's over the course of fifteen minutes, and I had those three cameras set up, and I wanted to do a lightning across the big panorama that that's my vision is to have a panorama with nothing but lightning going all the way across it and uh never happened that was always one camera or one and a half cameras worth I never got the third camera for that so someday I'll try that again I gotta find more friends with the same equipment so here I am doing video video is much easier way to catch for it, but I took the video and at the beginning is moving the cars are moving fast, I've spent up the video and then when I got to the lightning strikes I slowed down the video so now you see that everything's moving fast again and now when the lightning strikes I'll slow it down and I'll capture the lightning on those sixty frames per second so by playing a little bit with your little editing program, you could do some great things and show this lightning a little differently than maybe that you might have thought it would have been, but but video would capture that whole thing going on and it's maybe sometimes a better choice to do video than it is to try to capture it with this still, but these are the tools of the two there's the lightning bug and the lightning trigger ideas the lightning trigger for years lately I've been working also with a lightning bug which is less expensive and I can actually fire two cameras at the same time with it, it doesn't make any difference where this thing is pointed. If the lightning striking anywhere around you, it'll fire your camera. In fact, you get lots and lots of images with nothing in them because the lightning will strike over here and firing your camera. You're hoping it'll strike it right where it's going on. They're so keep keep these in mind if you want to do lightning pictures. If you live in some place that has a lot of lightning, the lightning bug and then there's the lightning trigger. So there are the websites. I have those lists that also in the notes, and this is a duel. You plug it into here and now you can run two cameras off of here that you need to cam records. In this case, I have to canon camera club records. I have actually run a nikon into canada at the same time so you can switch those out if you want to.

Class Description


  • Create a variety of dramatic panoramas.

  • Capture rapid movements, such as the flapping of a bird’s wings.

  • Take close-up shots that depict the beauty and vibrant colors of flowers.

  • Capture images of snowflakes using specialized equipment and intricate techniques.

  • Photograph and take videos of lightning storms.

  • Use various types of additional lighting, including electronic flashes.


Are you a major gearhead who loves hearing about the latest and greatest photography equipment on the market today? Do you want to learn some amazing techniques that will take your outdoor photography game to the next level?

If you want to shoot like a pro and get an inside look at how one of the greatest outdoor photographers around makes his magic, then this is the course for you. Celebrated photographer George Lepp shares some of his best-known photographs and describes the techniques and equipment needed to capture images of wild animals, beautiful flowers, and awesome landscapes.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Paint with high-powered flashlights during long exposures.

  • Use special techniques and post-processing software programs to extend your depth of field.

  • Take macro photography shots using special lenses and extension tubes.

  • Utilize tele extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots.

  • Use HDR to get natural looking contrast control.

  • Perform time-lapse photography with movement and panning.

  • Discover a variety of DSLR video shooting techniques.

Experienced photographers interested in exploring the intricacies of outdoor photography will love hearing George’s thrilling stories about his great outdoor and travel photography shoots all over the world like Africa and his close calls with wild animals. By the end of this course, you’ll be inspired to challenge yourself and experiment with these truly incredible techniques.


  • Experienced photographers who want to learn about cutting-edge equipment and innovative techniques for outdoor photography.

  • Photographers looking to be inspired by one of the greats and wanting to hear about his personal experiences.

  • Those who are new to outdoor photography and want an inside look at what it’s like to be a professional in the field.


George D. Lepp is one of North America’s best-known contemporary outdoor and nature photographers. His passions for natural beauty, technical precision, cutting-edge technology, and environmental responsibility are revealed in his beautiful and compelling photographic images. He is also widely recognized for his unique dedication to sharing his photographic and biological knowledge with other photographers through his seminars, writing, and inventions. George Lepp is a leader in the rapidly advancing field of outdoor photography and digital imaging. 

Lepp’s images have appeared in some of the world’s most widely viewed venues and on the covers of many books and magazines, including Natural History, Car and Driver, PC Photo, and Outdoor Photographer; at prestigious galleries and museums throughout the United States; and at the corporate headquarters of Canon USA, Eastman Kodak, and Epson America. He was chosen by Canon USA as one of the first members of its Explorers of Light program, which features the industry’s most influential photographers. He is known both for his sweeping panoramas that capture the magnificence of exotic locations and his stunning high-magnification macro renditions of subjects such as snowflakes and butterfly wings. His stock and assignment photography is represented by Getty, Corbis, and Photo Researchers. 

Lepp is regularly read in popular photographic magazines; he has contributed for thirty years as a field editor and columnist to Outdoor Photographer Magazine and more recently has published technical articles in Europe’s c’t Digital Photography Magazine. He is the author of many books, including Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field, Golden Poppies of California, and Beyond the Basics I and II: Innovative Techniques for Outdoor and Nature Photography, as well as hundreds of articles on photography. He has taught at Photoshop World, Santa Fe Workshops, Palm Beach Workshops, and founded the Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging. Lepp is a founding board member and a fellow of the North American Nature Photographers Association and winner of many awards for his work, including Photo Media’s Photography Person of the Year and the prestigious Progress Award, the highest given by the Photographic Society of America. 

First trained in wildlife and wildlands management, George Lepp later earned a BPA and honorary MS in Professional Photography from Brooks Institute. Contact him through his web site, www.GeorgeLepp.com.


  1. Class Overview

    Get an overview of what you’ll learn in this course on creative outdoor photography, including how to do panoramas, extending your depth of field, and time-lapse photography.

  2. Types of Panorama for Outdoor Photography

    There are many different panorama techniques, from composite to hand-held to multi-camera. You’ll learn about all of them and the basic techniques for creating them right here.

  3. Gigapan and Action Pano for Outdoor Photography

    Learn to take a Gigapan panorama and get extremely big and detailed shots.

  4. Additional Lighting: Light Painting, Flash and Ambient

    George discusses options for additional outdoor photography lighting, including electronic flashes, the Better Beamer Flash Extender, and using high-powered flashlights to paint with light during long exposures.

  5. Extended Depth of Field

    Sometimes it’s important to have objects in the foreground, middle ground, and background all in sharp focus. Learn about various software programs and techniques to achieve extended depth of field photography.

  6. Macro Photography Techniques

    Learn about macro photography techniques, lenses, and extension tubes.

  7. Tele-extenders and Outdoor Photography

    Learn about using tele-extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots of things such as a butterfly’s wings.

  8. HDR as a Tool

    High dynamic range (HDR) allows you to take multiple exposures at once and achieve natural looking contrast control within your final image. George offers a variety of HDR photography tips.

  9. Time-lapse Outdoor Photography

    Learn how to shoot time lapse photography with movement and panning.

  10. DSLR HD Video

    Learn about DSLR video shooting techniques and the essential equipment you’ll need.

  11. Cinemagraphs for Outdoor Photography

    George talks about the cinemagraph for outdoor photography, which is a still image with an element that moves.

  12. Photographing Birds

    Digital photography allows you to take incredible shots of birds and their movements. Get some bird photography tips and learn about shutter speeds and the equipment you’ll need to take your best images.

  13. Photographing Mammals

    George discusses wildlife photography techniques and his experiences shooting mammals, including speedy cheetahs, angry elephants, and hungry hippos.

  14. Photographing Birds and Mammals Q & A

    George offers some wildlife photography critiques and answers questions about his wildlife photography, including using a flash when taking pictures of birds and mammals.

  15. Macro Photography and Flowers

    George shares his flower photography techniques and confirms how he took glorious shots at Keukenhof Gardens in Holland.

  16. Photographing Butterflies

    Get some photo tips for photographing butterflies, including the importance of having a telephoto lens and a flash.

  17. Photographing Snowflakes

    Get the scoop on what you’ll need for snowflake macro photography, including special lighting, a copy stand, an adjustable base, and really cold equipment.

  18. Photographing Landscapes

    George offers some landscape photography tips for beginners and talks about some of his favorite places and landscape images.

  19. Photographing Lightning

    Learn how to photograph lightning and how to take video of lightning storms.

  20. HDR Landscapes and Time Lapse

    Learn about HDR landscape photography—compiling a series of pictures to capture various levels of light.

  21. Final Outdoor Photography Q&A

    Students get a chance to ask some final questions of George about outdoor photography ideas, including things such as panoramas, extenders, and white balance.


R. Hetrick

Amazing class! I particularly loved the macro and how to correctly take panoramic photos sections. George was not only a great teacher but he was super funny too. Would be happy to take any of his future classes.


I watched the entire class, and found it to be a very negative experience - in contrast to all of my other experiences with Creative Live, which had been very good. The problem with this class was the instructor. Mr. Lepp, rather than giving us practical, useful information, and techniques for approaching the subject of Outdoor Photography, instead used his time to show off his seemingly endless array of incredibly expensive and cutting edge gadgetry. For the first half hour or so, Mr. Lepp seemed pleasant and interesting, but it quickly became apparent that this class was NOT about anything relating to the art of outdoor photography. Instead, it was basically a seminar highlighting exotic equipment for the 1%. I have well over $25,000 of photographic equipment, but the arena in which Mr. Lepp plays begins somewhere around the $100,000 mark, and then requires a staggering ongoing budget for chartering helicopters, hiring guides, and constant upgrades to remain on the bleeding edge of gadgetry and accessories. From his gyroscopic mounts to his 40" printer, Mr. Lepp has it ALL and continues to spend, spend, spend. I admire his deep pockets, but I would have appreciated some real insight and technique and useful knowledge on actually getting great shots. (And I must say... Mr. Lepp's work... did not impress me to the degree that other teachers on CreativeLive have.) I believe those giving positive reviews here were more or less wowed by the sheer magnitude of his extensive, well-funded travels and his off-handed way of revealing the endless contraptions and combinations of gear he uses. The passion here is clearly about the gadgetry, and NOT about finding an original and creative voice in the arena of outdoor photography.


George really prepared a lot of information for his class. It is true, he does have a lot of expensive equipment and we may not be able to do some of the things he does with a smaller budget, but it is good incentive for us to plan for the future. He seemed to share new information constantly and stay focused and I was able to take a lot of notes. He talked about many kinds of equipment as well as software and websites he uses. I am pretty impressed that he is so up to date with recent technology. He especially loves macro/micro and stacking hundreds of images for minute focus on really large enlargements (for example, over 600 photos for one butterfly wing). That can get boring if you are not interested in doing that. I can take those tips and apply them to landscape photography though. I think it is more helpful for someone already doing outdoor photography and looking for new inspiration or new techniques as opposed to someone new to photography in general.