Lightning is an enigma.it is both easy but at the same time Bloody difficult to get right . this is my technique. it should work if you are shooting digital or film as i use the same settings and similar F stop. the only difference is the exposure .with film i use a Bulb exposure but with digital i use 15-30 sec exposure , whatever gives the least noise. a good tripod,a safe location (most important.you don't want yer bollocks being shot off by 16 million volts.. )..
forget trying to use a point shoot.....
so to pull the image apart.
the Meta data for this is
Focal Length 17mm (25mm 35mmfilm equivalent)
white balance auto
AV mode (Aperture Priority)
Post processing in Picasa, (feeling lucky ,auto colour) this will colour correct the image take out all the purple/orange light from the Sodium lamps. and restore a little more blue into the image
and the image is cropped to a little more impact , and remove some distracting periphery objects.
when i shoot film i usually use medium format, ie a Mamiya 330, 50mm.why a that camera?the only reason is that the shutter is not dependent on battery power, it's completely mechanical and i can keep it open for as long as i like.
the f/ stop i favour is around the 5.0-6.3 mark. it seems to be ideal as it cuts out the inevitable Koma(halo) you get at open apertures ,but it is not stopped down enough to make the lightning trails look anorexic and insipid.
i use 400 iso negative film, but you can use slower or faster......because you are use lightning as a flash the long exposure times you have with film are not an issue. find or set up in a way that shields the lens from ambient light sources like street lights. a hood is good
most important KEEP IT SAFE!
use common sense and don't put yourself in a position where you can get yourself or others killed. Lightning is TOTALLY unpredictable . i know of cases of people being struck by lighting while standing under a cloudless sky and the storm was over 50km away. while these are rare cases , keep in mind the aforementioned unpredictability and act accordingly.
hope this helps.if there are any questions,suggestions etc, happy to hear from people.