Capturing Lightning during the day

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by 350duser, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    Afternoon storm over the city.

    2280 photos with 12-50 at 12mm most at ISO 200, f 18, 1/20, continuous shooting on L

    Multiple lightning strikes in the field of interest

    1 strike captured !!!!!!

    Plan for next time:
    ND filter to slow shutter speed even more

    Any more suggestions to improve capture rate would be appreciated.

    Image is cropped.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Nice!

    ND filter won't actually help - it will dim the bolt as well. The problem with daylight lightning photography is that the light from the lightning is competing with sunlight. It is just like daylight flash photography - you've got to have a short shutter speed for it to work.

    What you need is a automatic trigger for the camera:

    Lightning Triggers from Ubertronix | BH inDepth

    But do some research on that, the camera needs to respond quickly to the external shutter release for this to work well.
     
  3. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    I was planning on the ND filter to slow shutter speed and hence keep shutter open longer to capture the bolt!!!

    Will look into the automatic triggers. Thanks for that.

    FOund another capture! Guess that doubles the capture rate!!!:2thumbs:
     

    Attached Files:

  4. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I understand, I was just pointing out you can only use that trick a little - as you add the ND and increase the exposure time the daylight exposure will remain the same but the exposure of the lightning bolt will be lower due to the ND filter. Same if you adjust the aperture.

    Lightning photography is like flash photography - shutter speed has no effect on the exposure, only aperture, ISO and a ND filter will change that. At night you just set the aperture and ISO for the best exposure of the bolt and then make the shutter speed as long as you want. During the day you have a problem, if you keep lowering the aperture, ISO and adding NDs while increasing the shutter speed you are lowering the lightning exposure while keeping the daylight exposure. The bolt will be dimmer in that case, eventually dim enough to be invisible. As you add ND you will see fewer branches in the bolt (they are dimmer than the main bolt) and the main bolt will become thinner and less easy to see.

    So you might add say a one stop ND to double your capture rate, but the bolts in those shots will be one stop less exposed compared to the background clouds in those shots. It is a trade off.

    Oh - and *please* be safe when doing lightning photography. While lightning kills about one in ten people it strikes, it also permanently disables about eight out of ten people it strikes - often central nervous system damage.
     
  5. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    Point well made. I understand.

    Agree safety comes first!!!

    Thanks.
     
  6. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    kwalsh, what do you use to capture lightning? I sat out in my screened-in room last night as the storms came through Frederick and while I caught some brightly lit skies, no lightning bolts. I saw one fancy device that was supposed to trigger properly, but the thing cost upwards of $300 (way too much for such a simple function).

    Thanks,
     
  7. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Hi Tom,

    To be honest I haven't even bothered trying to capture lightning in Maryland. The trees and the relatively low cloud decks seem to make it very difficult to get any sort of compelling shot without jeopardizing your life shooting in the open. I was spoiled living in AZ with a house on higher ground viewing the entire Tucson basin.

    I haven't tried the daylight triggers as I actually prefer the look of night or dusk shots where you can see much more structure in the bolts. Previously I just did lots of 10 to 30 second exposures, but with the E-M5 I think the bulb setting would be ideal.

    Sorry, that probably wasn't much help!
     
  8. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    I just ordered a Triggertrap Mobile (dongle) for my iPod/iPad. It's not completely obvious to me how this will work, but I intend to find out and when I do I will post my methods.

    The Triggertrap Mobile dongle was cheap! (~$30) and it uses your iOS or Android device as the trigger source (e.g., the internal camera and microphone) along with a free app.
     
  9. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    I've got a trigger trap and it seems to work as advertised. I don't know what the total delay is from iPhone camera, to trigger, to shutter release as far as daylight lightning capture goes. Certainly worth a try!
     
  10. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    Well I got my trigger trap and was disappointed that it can't do what I had hoped it would do. I used it with my iPod Touch and for lightning purposes it is incredible slow - much to slow to capture lightning when triggered from the light of the bolt itself, in fact I don't understand based on this triggering technique how any device can capture lightning!

    I wrote to TriggerTrap and they concurred that the delays caused by the iPod, their interface and the time to effect the shutter release delayed the function of the shutter too much to be of use for this application.

    So I'm back to square one - lots of open shutter for extended periods and waiting. And honestly given my geographical situation, that isn't even an option for me. There is too much ambient light around here for that method.