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Tips & Tricks - How do I... Lightning?

Schnappi - 08.10.2008 15:08
Post subject: How do I... Lightning?
Every time a storm rolls through (rare in Vegas) I wish I could get some lightning shots.
Unfortunately, I never actually get a shot with lightning in it.

So far I've tried lowering my quality (hurts so bad) so that I can take continuous shots for like 1000 frames in the hopes of a bolt going off in frame.

I've also tried long shutters... but if I get very long at all I end up with garbage anyway due to the stuff in my frame moving (and cloud movement).

So for those of you who get good lightning shots.... how?
Killerclaw - 08.10.2008 19:57
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I sit there with a remote and tripod and snap off 15 second exposures.


linguine - 08.10.2008 20:49
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I've never done it, but everything Ive seen says take lots of long exposures.
orionid - 09.10.2008 01:33
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About 15 years ago, <i>Nuts & Volts</i> magazine had an article showing the schematics and operation of an automatic shutter relase that responded to sharp changes in light levels and produced spectacular results with 1600 ISO film (if memory serves). Some Google-fu may unearth something similar..... the trick would be making it work with a DSLR.

Possibly with the nikon cordless remote, you could replace the button with a transistor and photocell... It'd be quick, dirty and ugly.... but inexpensive and possibly fun.
Killerclaw - 09.10.2008 01:51
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there is a lightning sensor that goes on the flash mount being advertised in Outdoor Photography magazine. I'm looking for my copy, I'll post a link when I find it.
Killerclaw - 09.10.2008 01:56
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http://www.lightningtrigger.com/ [1]
nugz4lunch - 07.01.2009 16:49
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[quote="Killerclaw"]I sit there with a remote and tripod and snap off 15 second exposures.

Me too.


jpatten - 07.01.2009 16:58
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same here .. stop down so I dont blow out the clouds, and click off 15-20sec frames one after another till I get lucky.
oi_piss_me_off - 19.07.2010 00:18
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I had a similar question. Do you have to have a remote release?
swampa - 19.07.2010 08:26
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No, you can use the timer function to trigger the camera if you want (or in the worst case you can use the shutter button but you will probably shake the camera in doing so unless it is fixed somewhere really solid). A remote release just makes it easier.
orionid - 19.07.2010 08:47
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What he said.
caradoc - 19.07.2010 08:55
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During the day, I use a trigger based on an Arduino microcontroller that measures ambient infrared, and pops the shutter when there's a spike in IR:

[2]

(clickr for Flickr, more links to the trigger "how-to" from there)

At night, I set for ambient (good exposure of city skyline, whatever) and bang out long exposures until lightning strikes in the frame. A solid tripod and a cable release are required for ths (I simply set the lock on the cable release to force the camera to repeatedly click off exposures until I unlock it.)

[3]
oi_piss_me_off - 20.07.2010 01:17
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Great! Thanks so much everyone. And caradoc, your photos are amazing!
olavf - 20.07.2010 01:29
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Yeah, he's pretty much why I pointed you over here.
caradoc - 20.07.2010 10:07
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Thanks! Anyone in the metro Phoenix area's welcome to ping me - we can go shoot.

(I'm kind of without a car for the moment... the Forester has a couple of cracked CV boots, and I really need to get those repaired/replaced before I drive much...)
oi_piss_me_off - 21.07.2010 18:51
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      olavf wrote:
Yeah, he's pretty much why I pointed you over here.



Thanks olavf!
Aarik - 22.07.2010 15:18
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I got pretty lucky with my first attempt last night.
caradoc - 22.07.2010 16:04
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      Aarik wrote:

I got pretty lucky with my first attempt last night.


That doesn't look like luck. That looks like being prepared and in the right place at the right time...
caradoc - 09.08.2010 17:01
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Now this... this is luck:

[4]

My poor old D80's a bit slower on the draw than a D300 - so I caught more of the repeated stroke than my friend did, about fifty feet away:

[5]

We're using almost identical triggers, but his trigger-to-shutter on the D300 beats me by about 25ms or so, so he missed the second half of that particular strike.
ravnostic - 09.08.2010 17:32
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Lightning if anything, is a matter of luck-of-the-draw. But your pic is outstanding. You might was well pulled two aces on the draw in 7 card poker, and followed it up with two more on the table.
chupathingie - 12.08.2010 15:40
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Yah, very pretty... nice to see that the monsoons haven't completely abandoned you this year.
All times are
Links
  1. http://www.lightningtrigger.com/
  2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/iaincaradoc/3846107512/
  3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/iaincaradoc/4802103414/
  4. http://www.flickr.com/photos/iaincaradoc/4870373245/
  5. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ckschweiger/4873301242/