Lightning with long exposure

This is my first post here. I would like to see how you approach a long exposure scene like this to handle noise, color and highlights.

20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF (21.0 MB) 20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.xmp (8.7 KB)

This file is licensed Creative Commons, By-Attribution, Share-Alike.


Hi and welcome to the forum!
It’s a very nice shot, I never had the luck of having a tripod and my camera with me during a tempest to catch lightnings.

20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.xmp (23.8 KB, dt 3.3)


DT 3.2.1

20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.xmp (93,1 KB)


Embedded OOC for reference (but flipped):

20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.jpg.out.pp3 (11.7 KB)

Good job not putting the ISO up, it’d have lost the relative brightness in the individual forks.

I’d print that and put it on my wall. I’d keep the majority of noise too, it’s very “static on television” which I’m finding attractive. The embedded Jpeg has been very smoothed and for an ISO 100 image is quite frankly “awful”, but then that’s why we play with RAW…

1 Like

My try on dt 3.2.1

The image needs also some cr removal.

20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.xmp (10.1 KB)


20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.jpg.out.pp3 (13.8 KB)


20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.xmp (16.3 KB) 20201113_18-28 _DSC1252_01.NEF.xmp (22.3 KB)


Thanks for sharing and playing :wink:

I remember to have one photo similar that I couldn’t process well at all and with these different approaches shared by all of you , I can review it again.


Standard processing, except for a S-curve instead of filmic, to drag the shadows quite low.

I exercised a bit of creative license with a tone curve on the red channel, pulled below the unity line to subtract the red from the lower tones.


20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.xmp (35.3 KB)


nice shot! We had a huge thunderstorm last week and I regretted not having my camera and tripod on me. I liked what @ggbutcher did with blue here and took mine in a similar direction.

20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.xmp (44.6 KB)


Thought I’d give this another go using RT Colour Toning selective masks from Andy Astbury’s @Andy_Astbury1 tutorial today

Just to see if I preferred the halo around the trees from my post number 4 above. Also roughly applied the wavelet noise reduction from his ISO 1000 video (it’s an hour long so I probably skipped some important bits).

Denoise Off._DSC1252_denoise_off.jpg.out.pp3 (12.3 KB)

Denoise On. _DSC1252_denoise_on.jpg.out.pp3 (12.3 KB)

It’s a useful mask in RT tool to have in the box, but I’m still preferring local contrast halos in this particular image as I find it emphasises the tree line and leaving the noise in and not losing the sharpness in the palm fronds. Always willing to learn though.

1 Like

Just out of curiosity, have you tried blurring the mask at all?

1 Like

I understand the logic, but I probably masked back to front so blurring encroaches on the palms rather than haloing outwards. I also placed a second mask on because you know, I was following the video and seeing what was what :slight_smile:

1 Like

With Filmulator; I didn’t do any noise reduction because I don’t really find it objectionable.

  • Auto CA correct 5 (didn’t really do well though)
  • Profiled Distortion on
  • Exposure comp +1.83
  • Drama 83
  • White clipping point 0.41
  • Shadow Brightness 76.1

I left it purple because that’s the actual color of electrical discharges in air.

1 Like

20201113_18-28 _DSC1252.NEF.pp3 (13.6 KB)

I’ve gone on an anti-chromatic aberration crusade with this one.

Under the colour tab HSV Eq is on but there are no adjustments in there so no effect.
And I’ve stripped the noise from the trees and kept their colour.

Had a quick look at this when it was posted and noticed that it would need a bit of time/work. Finally got time to try an edit:

lightning.pp3 (16.3 KB) RawTherapee (development)

My oh my, that lighting has some intense fringing/edge colouration. Got most of it with the defringe module and I used the (auto) chromatic aberration for the rest.

Tried to get the rest of the sky to pop a bit more and decided that I liked the overall tone to be towards the bluish side. It’s also slightly denoised.

Interesting shot to work with!

EDIT: Correct sentences are hard…

The Dev version of the pp3 file does not bode well for the future, demosaicing has got lost :frowning:

reseting the RAW gets it back but hopefully they’ll work on the compatibility without the need to redo every pp3 processed.

@nodal: I’m assuming you are talking about my pp3?

Just created a renamed copy of the RAW and applied the pp3 I uploaded here: No problems on my side.

I am on the very latest development version:

$ ./rawtherapee -v
RawTherapee, version 5.8-2662-g7861f5bcd

You do need the development version, though. I used a demosaicing option that is not in the current stable (RCD+Bilinear). I end up with a green screen when I try this pp3 using the stable release…

yep that’s what I meant, on non-dev it lost the demosaicing probably because you were using a non-stable option.