Lightning Photography with Magic Lantern
Martin Ocando | Photo Techniques | Published Oct 13, 2011
Lightnings and storms are always a powerful subject. The power of nature calls everyone's attention, but lighnings in particular have been until now a trial and error matter.
Magic Lantern (http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Lantern_Firmware_Wiki) is a firmware add-on. It is not a hack, or a modified firmware, but it runs alongside Canon's own firmware, booting from the SD card every time you turn the camera on. The only modification to the original firmware is the ability to boot software from the card, which is turned off by default on Canon's firmware. That is the extension of the tampering on the original firmware the Magic Lantern guys have done.
Set the camera on a tripod with LiveView turned on. Next, select Motion Detect on ML's menu, and just let it sit there for the whole duration of the storm or as long as you like. Using LiveView consumes a good deal your battery, so you’ll want to plan for that. Also, obviously, there’s a good chance of getting your camera wet with rain. Lastly, sensor temperature may be a concern, so be sure to monitor that, as you don't want it to get too high. I've spent a couple of hours testing it out and found no issue with it. Naturally, your results might vary.
As a general rule I use:
- Av mode with f:8 or f:11, depending on the depth of field I need. I'm more concerned about long exposure rather than DOF, though.
- Low ISO (100 or 200) ensure a long exposure: that will help in capturing several impressions of the lightning strike
- Exposure compensation -2 EV: this will avoid the image to be rendered too bright, risking hiding the lightning off a blown out background.
- Set 20 or 30 seconds delay for LCD timeout and Global Draw on ML's power menu. You don't have to worry if the LCD turns off. The SD LED lamp will flash every few seconds to let you know that is still alive.
Now you just can sit and relax while the camera does all the work.
NOTE: For a list of supported cameras: http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Lantern_Firmware_Wiki
Text revision: Dk Baker
|Sometimes you can even catch more than one lighning.|