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I also, quite often, would close my shutter at the slightest flash, and would not get the whole impressive display of the lightning.

Since the shutter is held open, just like any other camera, the longer it's open, the more light it will absorb. With some of the lightning that would flash and dance around the sky, I found it very easy to over-saturate the CCD element of the camera, and the shot would just come out white. So I have gotten into the habit of immediately closing the shutter upon first detecting the flash. It seems to give me better results, overall.