Photography with the Lightning Trigger is possible because a lightning flash is not a singular event. A flash is comprised of multiple return strokes occurring over as many as several-hundred milliseconds that are spaced approximately 40 milliseconds apart.
Camera Settings Quick List:
* Shutter speed priority mode (daytime) and
Manual mode (nighttime)
* 1/15 to 1/4 second exposure
* Single exposure mode
* Manual focus setting
For daytime photography, the Lightning Trigger works best with the camera set in shutter speed priority mode. The Lightning Trigger will activate the metering system and reset the exposure after each shot.
Take advantage of the camera metering system. Use standard methods normally recommended for lighting conditions without considering the contribution of the lightning flash. Once a lightning flash is detected, the Lightning Trigger will release the camera shutter and prevent re-triggering for 1/2 second.
There are no adjustments to make to the Lightning Trigger. Optical sensors automatically adjust to varying light levels.
Nighttime lightning photography differs in technique from daytime photography settings by utilizing the camera's manual exposure mode. Set the aperture starting at f/5.6 to f/4. Shutter speed should be set at 1/4 second up to the duration of the lightning flash, about 2 seconds. The camera may also be set to multiple exposure mode.
Shutter Speed Settings:
Preset the camera shutter speed at 1/15 to 1/4 second to ensure that you capture as much of the flash duration as possible. Using a shutter speed faster than 1/20 second (50 ms) reduces the probability that you will capture a stroke on film.
Usually to achieve such a slow shutter speed, the lens will be stopped almost all the way down. This will also improve the depth of field. You may find during bright lighting conditions, minimum aperture is reached at a higher shutter speed. A polarizer or neutral density filter can be used to achieve a further 2 to 3 stop reduction. Be sure check your camera's instruction manual so that you use the proper type of polarizer, i.e., circular.
Single Shot Mode:
Single shot mode is recommended for most cameras since the Lightning Trigger responds to the flash in less than a millisecond. Consequently, continuous mode shooting is not necessary when the recommended shutter speeds are used.
Take advantage of reducing the lag time by manually setting the lens focus. Shutter lag time is an important consideration since you will want the shutter to release as quickly as possible. Using Mirror pre-release may or may not reduce the shutter lag time. Check the camera documentation.
A single isolated thunderstorm with a high ground flash ratio is the easiest to photograph since all of the lightning activity can be located within the field of view. You should position yourself in a safe location 6 to 7 miles from the storm so that it will pass across the field of view. This will allow the best opportunity to capture the lightning flashes. Use a 70 mm or higher focal length lens to bring the flashes in. A zoom lens is best since the location of a flash is usually not very predictable. Using a wide angle of view will help ensure that you capture the flash. The Lightning Trigger will easily respond to flashes 20 miles away. Positioning yourself in front of an advancing storm is not only dangerous, but it is difficult to maintain the lightning flashes within the field of view.
Very active embedded thunderstorms are the most difficult to photograph since the location of the lightning is mostly outside the field of view. Using a camera with an automatic image/film advance in an embedded thunderstorm will consume copious quantities of storage/film!
For digital cameras, slower ISO settings are recommended. Note that all camera functions may be available with digital cameras while the Lighting Trigger is switched on. Specifically, the image preview may not operate while the metering system is active. With some older digital cameras, utilizing certain custom functions may actually increase the lag time. A distinct advantage of digital over film cameras is that out-of-field-of-view missed shots may be easily discarded.
Transparency and print films work equally as well. Fast films are not required and slow films, ISO 50-100 offer excellent grain. If you are interested in photographing lightning in quantity, an economical approach is to buy print films and have only the negative strip developed at about 1/3 the cost of transparency films. Choice negatives can then be printed or scanned.
Testing the Lightning Trigger:
You can test the function of the Lightning Trigger on your camera without the presence of a thunderstorm. A camera flash unit or an infrared remote (TV) transmitter will trigger the device. A flash detection indicator light is provided on the Lightning Trigger. You can also use the Lightning Trigger for remote camera and flash activation in this manner.
Taking lightning photographs with the Lightning Trigger really is that simple!
Enjoy Lightning Photography and Remember, Always Safety First!