Monday, October 20, 2014

Zap!


Intercloud lightning using Nikon D-800 1/20sec f/2.8 70mm with 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens RRS tripod/ballhead


I purchased the Lightning Trigger LT-IV from Stepping Stone Products, LLC , Dolores, CO, USA. This lightning detector is a bit more expensive than others on the market at $369 USD. In my humble opinion you get what you pay for and this unit works and works very well! Before I get started you cannot be too safe around lightning. Read and heed the safety instructions that comes with this unit. There have been 24 known fatalities caused by lightning in the United States as of this date 2014. Please be safe!!!

My only complaint with my unit is Stepping Stone Products took one month from my order date before I received my detector. To be fair to them I probably ordered it at the height of the monsoon season, I'm sure they were plenty busy building & shipping units. Make sure you give them plenty of time for your order.

I tested my unit at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon the first week of September, 2014. At one point I was shooting next to another photographer shooting with a Nikon D-700 and a Stepping Stone Products, model LT3 lightning detector. I have to say that my Nikon D-800 was being fired off almost continuously compared to his. Much of the reason was intercloud lightning that is pretty much impossible to see in the daylight hours which is when I was making the comparison. My first photo shows what intercloud looks like at night. No lightning bolts visible, just a flash between clouds.  Their new detector LT-IV is extremely sensitive and according to their website will detect lightning up to 40 miles at night and 20 miles in daylight hours. Here's a link to their website, http://www.lightningtrigger.com/indexLT3.html. When ordering make sure you include what model/make camera you will be using with their product in order to receive the correct triggering cable with your unit.
Zap! Nikon D-800 1/20sec f/2.8 70mm with 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens RRS tripod/ballhead

 I basically received my unit the day before I left for the canyon and had no time to read their booklet so I just winged it on my settings.The book tells you for nighttime lightning shots to set your aperture from f/5.6 to f/4. Shutter speed from 1/4 sec up to 2 seconds. The unit runs on a single 9 volt battery and comes with a nice small case that can slip onto your pants belt. The case measures 6.5" X 3.5" by approximately 2.5" wide with the unit in the case. Not a large unit, my photo bag is stuffed full now, any more gear and I will have to look for another bag.

One of the biggest problems of course is once the sun goes down it is quite difficult to focus on the lightning strikes. You will have to switch to manual focus, as with my Nikon it refuses to take the shot with auto focus once it's too dark out. Hopefully there will be a landmark or some type of light near where the lightning is striking so that you can manually focus on it. You may have to experiment a bit with a few shots to get the lightning in focus. I know on my Nikkor lenses infinity is not in sharp focus when set to infinity. It is usually backed off just a tad from where the lens is marked infinity.

Just experiment and have some fun with it. When I was shooting with this other photographer many people came by and asked what we were doing and what was that gadget on our cameras? They were surprised to find out we were shooting lightning.

 It's a lot of fun, I'm looking forward to my next lightning storm! Thanks for visiting!

Nice one! Nikon D-800 1/20sec f/2.8 70mm with 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens RRS tripod/ballhead

Ball lightning! Nikon D-800 1/30sec f/2.8 70mm with 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens RRS tripod/ballhead