Hello, this is Maurice and I welcome you Tech Photo Blog. This is episode #1.
When you see a lightning strike, it is actually many micro-strikes. Each micro-strike is very short with a duration of less than 1 ms (1/1,000th of second). The time from the first to the last micro-strike (or the overall duration of a lightning strike) is about 100 ms.
Camera shutter lag is about 60 ms. Here’s a page with actual shutter lags for different cameras. This means at most we have 40 ms to capture a strike of lightning.
The response time for humans is about 160 ms. Obviously that’s too slow to capture lighting.
Often people capture lightning by using a long exposure of many seconds. This has problems like having most shots being black pictures of the night sky, it requires lots of user setup, and it won’t usually work during the day time.
The solution is to use an electrical triggering system. Here’s a link to an old DIY lightning trigger I made years ago. It is cheap and works well for those who like to assemble electronics and solder things together.
Described how to use the Camera Axe to photograph lightning.
Lightning photos used with permission from John Groseclose
Lightning photo used with permission from Jorge Puente