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Lightning: Anyone shooting from their vehicle?


chelsea
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<p>Last night we had a wonderful storm, started down the far end of the lake, and I got some shots from our dock. When the storm got too close I high-tailed it up to the house, and got some more shots, couple really good ones. Problem is the view from the house, there are a couple big trees on either side that only give me a clear view to 1/3 of the lake. (No, cutting them down is NOT an option.) Down closer to the lake there's a spot where I can park my truck, and thought next time maybe I can sit inside the truck and shoot out the driver's side window. I could rig up something for the tripod, or even some kind of brace to hold a beanbag. Now, you always get rain against the windows that can interfere with a good shot. I'm working my little brain cells trying to figure some kind of umbrella device to keep the rain off the window, and yet allow me a good view. Is anyone here in the habit of shooting lightning from their vehicle, and what kind of setup do you use?</p>
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<p>I have never done it but make sure that nothing protrudes through the window when you attempt this. The metal in your vehicle will protect you in case lightning happens to strike the car but if any object is actually outside of the car, even through a window, it can carry the current inside.</p>
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<p>This is why I was thinking of how I could rig a board with a bean bag, from the dash to behind the seat. For the "umbrella" gizmo for the window, I have some plastic pipes, could sew a nylon awning of some sort. The main problem is rigging it rigid, and in such a way that the wind isn't going to whip it around. It's too bad that my truck isn't designed for car racks, I could hook up a rack and then brace something with plastic pipe for an overhang.</p>

<p>I'm wishing I had the money for some kind of "portable pod" that I could stand inside of. I can't really build a little hut or shelter that I could leave there, that would be the ideal solution. The thing is to try to have some kind of shelter just big enough to sit or stand in and not get zapped.</p>

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<p>Manfrotto sells pump action suction cups that you could stick to the roof of your car. They have a 1/2in pin sticking up from them that you could rig something to. I have used them to attach cameras and lighting equipment to cars and they are quite strong. If you don't want to spend the money on these, you can get similar devices from auto parts stores. They are tools used for installing windshields that have the same pump type suction base but instead of the pin they have handles. As long as your rain awning isn't too big I think they should be able to hold in strong winds.<br>

As for a camera support, when I shoot from my car I place a monopod between the driver's seat and the door and slam it shut. The door holds it in place fairly well. Of course this will scuff the interior door panels so don't try it if you have a newer car.</p>

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<p>It's a newer vehicle, so I don't think I'll try that. It's a truck with the "king cab", I can put a box on the back seat as a support, a foam pad on the dash, and a board or rail across to support the camera with bean bag. I'll check our auto parts stores for the suction cups. Now...just when I get all this rigging, our storm season will be over.</p>
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<p>It won't matter if the window is up or down. Glass is a great insulator but it will not stop the kind of current that a bolt of lightning carries. The remote option is a good one though if you have some radio triggers. You want some that use high frequency radio waves though or the lightning itself may trigger them to misfire.</p>
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<p>I've actually shot from the car hand-held and scored decent lightning shots. And I wrote a blogpost about it a while back, at <a href="http://www.theamazingimage.com/blog/2010/5/28/sometimes-you-just-get-lucky.html">The Amazing Image</a></p>

<p>The IS was a big help. Turning the car off to eliminate vibration helped more. </p>

<p>I shot ~5 second exposures in the "B" mode, closing the shutter only after a big lightning bolt. </p>

<p>And I was watching the front approach from many miles away with clear weather around me, so I was able to shoot with the lens sitting outside the car without danger of getting zapped.</p>

<p>It may not be the ideal way to shoot, but it worked out well - in this particular shoot, I came away with several portfolio images.</p>

<p>I hope that helps.</p>

<p>Charlie MacPherson<br />www.theamazingimage.com<br />www.thewildinfocus.com</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>I've shot lightning from the car several times. I've got a Manfrotto #3292 ballhead that clamps down on the top of the partially rolled down car window. It only supports a light camera, but you're unlikely to be using a large telephoto with lightning. Actually, I think the weight limit is based upon the strength of the window. Anyway, the window clamp ballhead works great for me. As far as rain is concerned, I haven't found a solution for that. Well, maybe. I have considered using my point and shoot camera inside its underwater housing, although I haven't actually done that yet.</p><div>00XIDB-281105584.jpg.2b26b9e5236614d51e951c612d6c21b1.jpg</div>
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<p>I shoot out my vehicle's window at least a couple of times every summer. I try to stay on the edge of the storm where rain isn't an issue, if it does start to rain, I drive farther away.<br>

You can see examples here: www.freshairphotos.com/PT_lightning.html<br>

www.freshairphotos.com/PT_light808.html</p>

<p> </p>

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