Strike Near Saguaro Lake

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    From Usery Pass looking toward Four Peaks. August 21, 2009, about 30-45 minutes before sunset.

    Lightning trigger from directions on GlacialWanderer's DIY page, using an Arduino controller and a few bits from Radio Shack.

    Between Fountain Hills and Mesa, AZ.

    Christoph Schweiger, and 19 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Christoph Schweiger 68 months ago | reply

      Wow, the cross processed look makes this image POP! I have to got to build myself one of these lightning triggers. Timing 1/5 sec exposures is like going to the casino...

    2. pwscott61 68 months ago | reply

      Nice one John. And a nice foreground for it also.

    3. NebraskaSC Photography 67 months ago | reply

      Man.. there's Poetry in this Capture... Very Moving!!!

      Seen in There Be a Storm A Brewin!
      Please tag your photo "There Be a Storm A Brewin"

    4. Au Snap 67 months ago | reply

      nice! picture is great without the lighting but the lighting makes it awesome.
      The World Through My Eyes

    5. J.^2 67 months ago | reply

      Amazing, not so often one got to see a lightning captured during daylight!

      The World Through My Eyes

    6. derektabq 64 months ago | reply


    7. BeccaG 64 months ago | reply

      I'm not sure what's cooler - the photo or that homemade gizmo that helped you take it.

    8. Photie1 [deleted] 64 months ago | reply

      Magnificent! Nature can be quite terrifying...

    9. asia_benford 64 months ago | reply

      On your comment: December 28, 2009 @ 9:57 pm on the site:

      I have not tried it yet with lightning as we have lightning only in the summer, but I have tried it with a flash light. What camera do you have? You may need some slight delay and adjust the sensitivity of the sensor too.

      I have described an implementation using a micro-controller too, have you looked at the blog I wrote:!DA7A6E9DDF81F274!310...

      I took pictures of drops of water with that implementation:

      As you can see, the drop just left the tube at about 1cm (the diameter of the laser pointer).

      A more interesting case with oil:


      I may replace the light sensor by a microphone in my implementation to take pictures of things that break too, that is when I'll find the time to fool around!

    10. John Groseclose ( 64 months ago | reply

      Thuy, please show us a photograph of lightning taken using your "simple circuit."

      I don't believe the timing will work quite the way you think it will.

    11. derektabq 64 months ago | reply

      excellent !!
      Great capture!

    12. asia_benford 64 months ago | reply

      As I mentioned before, I have to wait for a stormy day to try it out. I did not say it explicitly but in one of the blogs I posted, I showed how I used a diffuser to cut down the amount of light i.e. if you want a picture of daylight lightning, you have to filter out some visible light by putting a piece of paper or some tinted piece of something.

      Now about your mention of timing, I did measurements with an oscilloscope which show that as long as the light level is above the firing threshold of the camera, the shutter is held open. This is quite suitable for taking pictures of lightning. In other kind of pictures, the simple circuit would not work correctly because when the shutter is held open for too long, the CCD of the camera saturates and the camera would lock-up. Tell me what kind of pictures you want to take so that I understand why you have problems and why you want to hold your shutter open for longer than the time the detector gets above the firing threshold.

      I took the pictures of single drop of liquid with the circuits I built. In those situations, proper timing is necessary and in the blog for the full solution, I showed how to program the microcontroller for the task.

      Here is a picture of the simplest circuit of all: i.e. no circuit at all (as you are a sw person, I'm sure that you know what is called a "null modem")

      The picture was taken from my backyard by keeping the shutter opened for 2" and randomly shoot! Actually I have a dozen of such shots but I did not like the fact that they were random shots.

      Addendum posted on :

      I should repeat that I use a PENTAX camera (not a CANON as you all seem to have) and in the circuit, I chose a high resistor value to limit the current and avoiding messing up the camera in case of accident.

      In the full solution for general pictures taking, I took a further precaution by electrically isolating the control from the camera through the use of optical coupling the controller to the camera.

      In the blog!DA7A6E9DDF81F274!339... I described another use of camera in a non-imaging case.

      I though that this is about robotics and photography so I posted my comments. I do not sell anything. I even advise people to buy stuff from you guys if they don’t have the appropriate engineering background to venture on their own!

    13. John Groseclose ( 64 months ago | reply

      I don't want to hold the shutter open. I want it to take a series of images at the first indication that there is an IR surge - which the Arduino does just fine. As long as the controller holds the trigger pin high, the camera continues firing individual frames.

      When I attempted this with a simple trigger, it didn't matter if the threshold remained high - the trigger would only fire once, and as soon as the shutter had released it would stop until the next trigger event.

      Since lightning in Arizona is very rarely a single stroke, the Arduino method catches the second and subsequent strokes while the camera is still firing repeat exposures.

      Since the trigger-to-shutter delay on the D80 is approximately 80ms, the "simple trigger" misses the stepped leaders on the initial stroke. The Arduino also misses those on the initial, but catches the stepped leaders on the second and subsequent strokes.

      I don't use a filter for my daylight lightning - I simply stop down to f/8-f/11 and let the Arduino pop a series of exposures at the initial IR surge.

      The "long exposure" method is the "norm" for shooting lightning at night. The same method would work in daylight as long as your camera has a large enough buffer and you don't care about cranking thousands of exposures just to catch one lightning bolt.

    14. asia_benford 64 months ago | reply

      Thanks John for the tips, I will use them the next time that we have a storm.

      I should say that I did not think of making the circuits until I read Maurice Ribble's blog a couple of weeks ago. It is a fun thing to try. Shame on me that I did not think of doing those things sooner!

      Yes, the use of smaller aperture is what optical engineers call filtering! It is a way to cutting down light (See blog!DA7A6E9DDF81F274!334....

      An interesting thing to do is to shoot the moon (in photographic jargon, they call this "reciprocity failure" if I'm not mistaken. The same method applies to taking picture of a white cat on a heap of charcoal), it shows the meaning of exposure:


    15. RGB12 63 months ago | reply

      Great capture

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