How to Sync Camera With Aircraft Strobes Aloft ?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by <b>jim miller</b>, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. There may be no practical, affordable way to to this; but there might be; so I'll ask ?
    Circa 25,000 to 35,000 feet aloft, over my home; I see many large airline aircraft. They are especially visable at sunset; and at night, if lit by on- board navigation strobe-lights. First, does digital vs. film matter? I only own an old Nikon FA. The primary question is: how do I get the flash of the on- aircraft strobes aloft, to trigger the exposure in my camera ? Jim Miller , Southport,N.C.
  2. Not only is there no practical or affordable way to do this there's no possible way either. So in that sense Film or Digital doesn't matter.

    The best you can do is try and capture the shot manually using the shutter release on your camera.
  3. As pointed out, it can't be done.

    But and however, there is a parallel problem that was solved over 60 years ago. The RAF fitted their bombers with cameras that pointed down, included a flash bomb in the bomb load. The flash bomb was triggered by a little propeller; so many turns and poof! As you can imagine, the time between bombs away! and poof! was somewhat random.

    The solution was to run a pair of synchronized cameras that took exposures alternately. While camera 1 was taking an exposure, camera 2 was advancing film.

    What you want is a couple of cameras fired by an intervalometer. Some of the frames will capture a strobe, others won't. Digital will cost less to run.
  4. I forgot to mention that eventually Williamson and their successor AGI, actually, made twin lens aerial cameras with each lens exposing one side of a roll of film. The lenses fired alternately.

    I've never had an F-96, had dismantled some F-135s. They look like they might be stereo cameras, but they aren't.
  5. Hello, Brooks is partly right. "Manufacturers used to give the duration e.g. 1/1000 to 1/50,000 depending on distance from subject and f-stop" The preceeding is a quote ref the speed of photographics strobe. If all you need is to include the flash in large photos of the sky frequent long exposures of a second or more might catch an occassional flash. Good luck D.D.
  6. I was trying to do a shoot outside using strobes. I was using a "super slave" flash trigger, that kept going off when I was not ready. I figured out finally that it was the strobe lights on overhead planes that was setting off the slave. It was that sensitive. This might be able to be used in a relay to fire the camera.
  7. Shutter lag, Michael, shutter lag.
  8. Aircraft navigation lights usually pulse in a regular fashion, so if you are any good at picking up a drumbeat, you can use a similar technique to pulse in time with the flashes, teaching yourself to lead slightly. You may find a cable release is a good idea if you aren't using a long telephoto.
  9. The simple answer is to take lots and lots of pictures and hope you get lucky.
  10. "There may be no practical, affordable way to to this..."

    Depends on how handy and how much effort you want to put into this.

    One cheap approach is to build a digitally phase locked loop. Open up an optical slave, and wire the output to the protected I/O lines of a microcontroller or FPGA evaluation board. Write the firmware or hardware. After the loop locks, trigger the camera at some phase offset during the rotation.
  11. Cute, Robert, but it will always be late.
  12. Robert,

    That would be my definition of "not pactical"......
  13. Thanks all! Better answers than I expected.
    Robert Lee's is a little too technical for me to understand. Don Davis' "long exposure" is about what I'd figured out myself; if it is a totally dark night. But at sunset, with a half-second exposure to catch the flash; would not available light over-expose?
    Michael Ging's "super slave" flash trigger, sounds best? Michael, can you be more specific? Can you name a brand(s) and model(s)? I would think an airline staff photographer may have confronted, and solve; such photo problem?

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