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                   Saturday, May 17, 2008 - 9:57PM

First DSLR lightning expedition bust

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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I saw a distant flash of lightning tonight.

In this recent weather pattern, even that's something to write a sentence on a blog about. I even got the 'event' on camera as I was doing (handheld) long exposure tests in the car. See the faint glow on the horizon above the city lights?

Yeah, I know this must be a low point in the season when I post an image like that. It is technically the first lightning I got on the new camera though, so I guess it's a 'milestone' (?) to at least mention. I doubt I'm going to get many print orders for this. Anyway..

I didn't expect to even get much rain tonight after the RUC model backed off of its precip forecasts, but lo and behold, the line of showers in Ohio began building southward and producing a few strike points on the detector network. So, I went and set up on the perch on Fort Hill for about 20 minutes as they moved in. Some of the showers had dense rain shafts that almost had the look of something ready to pop a few CGs, but the one faint flash was the only sign of any atmospheric electricity I saw.

I did get to play around with dusk exposure settings on the XSi, which was at least something productive to come out of the evening. I thought that aperture priority mode would work best for twilight storms, but as it gets darker, the camera doesn't like it when it thinks the exposure time needs to be more than 30 seconds (and won't take the picture). This is useful info to know - so future lightning photo shoots will need to be in full manual mode, particularly for brighter/closer lightning at F8 or higher. For reference, the following lightning-less frames were on aperture priority at F5.6 - the first shot at 4 seconds, the second at 30.

I promise, this will be the last post of lightning-less photos from an attempted lightning shoot. Unless an unexpected explosion, UFO or something else interesting shows up in the picture.

Lord willing, next week should provide plenty of more interesting things from the camera to post.

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