Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer


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Lightning in Brighton

There has been some awesome atmospheric conditions in Brighton of late. The crazy hot summer air mixed with low pressure has created amazing thunderstorms and lightning shows in the early hours of the morning. I missed out on the Thursday night/Friday morning's amazing light show, but I did watch it from my window, what else could I do as I wasn't going to be able to sleep.

The following day the internet was alive with pictures, kicking myself just a bit for not taking one image, I noticed that the weather forecast said more of the same for Friday night/Saturday morning, could this be a second chance?

Ben Harvey contacted me and asked if I would like to join him storm-chasing for the night, the answer was a definite YES. After a little discussion we decided that even though the pier had been shot last night it was still the most iconic and interesting landmark, so we headed down to Brighton beach. In the dark, we could see bodies scurrying around the beach setting up various cameras. 

Midnight - all seemed a little quiet, then after about an hour, flashes started happening on the horizon. We photographed the odd flashes, one every two minutes or so, then noticing the frequency had ramped up, almost a flash every thirty seconds, we prepared ourselves to get some amazing shots or get very wet.

By around 2am we were treated to a fantastic light show, as lightning seemed to be happening all around us. Luckily it stayed dry for the whole period we were out, that was until we packed up, then the heavens opened up. 

It was a great evening, fun and dare I say, the atmosphere was electric.

Lightning in Brighton

How I photographed the lightning

Gear for the evening was - Canon 5D MKII, 24-70 2.8L lens and a tripod. With the tripod on a solid base, I set up my camera, and used the following settings - manual focus, set to infinity, Shutter 30", Aperture 5.0 and ISO 200. With the initial shots being so far off on the horizon, I used about 4.0, as it got brighter and nearer, this changed to mostly the 5.6/8.0 range. This shot was the start of the storm with the lightning strikes off in the distance.

Lightning in Brighton

The lightning getting closer and happening more often toward the West Pier. Time to recompose, which is always fun in the dark.



As the lightning got brighter and closer, I bumped the aperture, and by shooting long exposures ensured I got the cracks of lightning. If you try to capture it in one go once you see it, you are likely to miss the shot and get very frustrated. The lightning strikes occurred frequently at this point next to the West Pier. Happy with this composition it was just a waiting game.



Once the lightning had made its way in to the coast, it was more like a tropical storm, thunder and lightning occurring but no rain! For this four minute exposure, the skies became hectic as they are lit up by the strikes followed by the ominous thundery rumbles. 


Brighton lightning prints available

A lot of people have asked about getting prints, so here are the details -
Metallic print 15x10 / A3 / A2 = £30 / £40 / £50
Printed on to Aluminium 15x10 = £125
Commercial use of the digital file = £125

Please state which image you would like printing - lightning1 or lightning2.
Send orders to

All prints are unwatermarked. Alternate sizes available on request (prices will vary). All prints are taken care of by a professional lab. Please allow around 5 working days from placement of order.

Dade Freeman is a Brighton photographer producing portraits and headshots for actors, musicians, corporate business and other professional industries.