Camera is missing lightning strikes

Hi Folks,

Just bought a new Vivitar lightning trigger. We are having a thunderstorm and there have been some killer lightning strikes. The trigger goes off, and the shutter activates. But the camera is missing the lightning bolt. ISO is 100, shutter speed is 30, the lens is set to infinity. In the pictures I can see the light from the street lights etc.... But not the bolt of lightning. Was thinking maybe the flash of lightning is just too fast. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thank you,


  • edited May 2019
    Generally speaking if your shutter is open when the bolt comes, it should catch it, but a longer shutter speed might help. You may find you need a larger aperture or higher ISO. It's going to be hard to cancel out city lights if they're present, though.

    As a basic test to see if the trigger is working correctly in the first place, I suggest you set an unrealistically long shutter speed, with a fairly wide aperture, so you can pretty much guarantee an overexposure. You can be pretty sure it will blow out city lights, and make a poor picture, but if it still does not capture the lightning bolt, then you can be pretty sure the trigger is simply opening too late. If it does catch the bolt well, then you know it's starting in time. Once you've troubleshot the trigger, you can start decreasing exposure to taste.

    Back when I was doing a bunch of this on film, I got pretty good results with time exposures, the aperture at about F8, and ISO 100. With no trigger, of course, one had to leave the shutter open and wait for luck, and in my case there were few or no ambient lights to affect a long exposure. With a working trigger, similar settings ought to get you an exposure with a faster shutter speed.
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