Last night I photographed a beautiful electric storm from my balcony. I got some really great bursts of lightning, and while analyzing them I realized that three of them would work perfectly as a composite. I haven’t had a huge opportunity to photograph lightning since I was a kid living at home, and actually got one of my best lightning photographs in my backyard with my Nikon F4 film camera. (Here’s the link to that image in my archives if you want to check it out: http://nicolesyblog.com/2005/07/11/favorite/)
The composite was relatively simple to put together, the only tricky part was blending the main “bolt” and its surrounding clouds in with the rest of the sky (the layer called “lightning strike”) because it was a different color of light. I ended up just adjusting that layer so that it had some massive contrast (with a levels adjustment), and then changed its blending mode to “screen” so that only the lighter parts showed through. Then, I added a solid color fill layer that was the same color of the sky, change the blending mode to “color”, and masked it in around the bolt.
You can click on the image to see a larger preview, and feel free to ask questions in the comments if you’re curious about any other methods I used to photograph or put this image together in Photoshop.