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Old 04-02-2013, 10:07 PM
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Astroman (Andrew Wall)
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Paralowie, South Australia
Posts: 4,359
Okay, Lightning triggers are best used during the day. Night Lightning depending on the scene can be used in the manual fashion, more on that later.... For Daylight lightning you expose the shot as a normal shot but bare in mind that you want to aim for at least a 1/8s exposure or longer. To do this you will need to use ND filters or stop your lens down to F11 or so. You wouldn't want to go any greater than F16 IMO. Using ND filters allows you to keep the aperture wider allowing more of the strike to become visible especially those fainter streamers. For a lightning trigger I would recommend the one that Martin (BlackWidow) sells not only is he an Aussie, but he is also on IIS. He sells them on Ebay for around $99. To me when I had a look at a friends trigger, it looked really well made and didn't look like it was going to fall apart on you..

Lightning triggers will not get all of the strike in the shot, many times you will miss completely or it will trigger with the lightning off the side of the frame. The triggers have to "see" the strike happen before they fire, this usually means you will only get the return strokes of the lightning strike (for a CG), not the initial connection between ground and cloud, which is usually the brightest. Cloud to Cloud strikes can often be missed also due to them sometimes lasting longer than a CG, or some of the time they are cut short due to the exposure times being too short.

Now Night Lightning is very dependant on scenery. If you are shooting at a very dark location with little or no lights about you can usually keep the shutter open for as long as you like. I usually tell people to start off with an aperture of f5.6, if the strikes appear to be blowing out, increase your aperture to 6 or 8. Using the aperture as a brightness filter. The closer the lightning you might have to increase it more, but usually start off at 5.6 and go from there. Exposure times in dark areas can be as long as you want , but as soon as the strike happens (For single strikes on the frame) release the shutter. For multiple strikes you can leave the shutter open, but clouds move so you may get cloud ghosting (where it looks like more cloud lines) For city shooting, I tend to expose for the scene ie. Test shoot your scene, make the scene a part of the picture. If you have a building, try and expose the shot so the building is clearly visible, then when the strike happens adjust the aperture so both building and lighting are well exposed.

This is all trial and error with a bit of luck and a bit of technical guide along the way. I have just given you a little guide now you just need luck and and have fun trialling it out.

The above guide is no hard and fast rule of thumb, it is the way I have helped many people take the first steps into lightning photography and many surpass my Lightning Photography. The idea is to give it a go and if the guides I have written help along the way then I am happy. Go out have fun, be safe.
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