A few days ago, I created a blog post that talked about a way where you can guarantee to capture every lightning strike, every time. It is a little bit convoluted, however: You have to use two different cameras, you have to create a special cable, and you have to hack the software on your camera.
After that post, I got a load of e-mail and some rather well-argued comments on my blog post over on Pixiq, explaining that lightning doesn’t quite work the way I assumed: Instead of a single, super short flash (like you might expect from a flashgun – whose light flashes can be as short as 0.05 milliseconds – or 50 µs, if you prefer), lightning is, in fact, a much slower process.
Wikipedia, for example, has a lightning sequence photograph that covers 0.32 seconds – that’s a whopping 320 milliseconds.
It turns out that there’s another device out there that relies on the fact that lightning isn’t in fact, fast as lightning. The Lightning Trigger guys explain that “Depending on the storm, lightning flashes can last for several hundred milliseconds and contain dozens of strokes each occurring approximately 40 milliseconds apart”. They also have a rather useful graphic explaining how lightning works, and the same page lists the shutter lag for a whole load of different cameras. Useful! You can buy the Lightning Trigger with connection cable for $380 from the LightningTrigger.com site.
So, how can you use the Triggertrap to capture lightning?
Since the Triggertrap is perfectly happy to react in about 2 milliseconds, and a camera typically has a shutter lag of about 50 milliseconds, that means that we have plenty of time to capture a load more lightning.
You simply set your Triggertrap to Ambient Light mode (‘Light’), and point the side of the Triggertrap towards the lightning storm. When lightning blasts off, the following happens:
So, in other words: The answer to the perennial question as to whether you can use the Triggertrap to take photos of lightning is:
- Yes, without modification, as shown on this page
- Yes, with modification, which guarantees that you capture every single lightning strike.