Murphy's law of lightning - on camera!

Dan Robinson

We all know how to get lightning to strike, and that is to close your shutter and advance the film. Well, while shooting a storm last night, I was describing this law of lightning photography to my brother:
(RealVideo, 350KB)

On the video, you can hear me say: "watch this - this is how you get lightning to strike. You just close the shutter on the camera". And of course, look what happens.

So there you have it, the well-known Murphy's law of lightning photography, fully documented on video.
There is a way coax the lightning into your viewfinder:

"Dear lightning,
(packing my equipment up) I have decided to give up stormchasing to become a rock star. Don't even bother to strike because I'm leaving right now, to tour the country. Even if you dance around and make circles and figure 8s, I won't be paying any attention (nose in air). I know that the last strike you just put down was your swan song for the night anyway. Bye...(turning with keys in hand), I'm going home..." (one eye still watching)

It works! I promise. This is field-tested :p
Sounds plausible to me, Susan. Ingenious, in fact.

Next year, I plan to use a related technique for stormchasing. I'm going to set out mobile home decoys and conceal myself in a duck blind.
Yep, either close the shutter if you're going for stills, or turn the camera off if you're going for vid...worked like a charm about 12:30am!! :?
While returning from one of our most successful Indiana/Illinois chases on April 4th, 2003, Ben Cotton and I noted that singing the "Bill Nye the Science Guy" theme song at the top of our lungs for whatever reason almost always resulted in an increase in CG activity. :lol:

We are, of course, both nuts, and were very very hyper at the time.
The very best CGs seem to occur just outside the range of the viewfinder, which is usually a wild display until the camera is turned to that area, at which point the greatest CG activity immediately migrates just outside the viewfinder again. The only cure seems to be having multiple cameras pointed all across the horizon. I don't know Susan - lightning is rebellious. I've tried being nice like you, but anymore I tend to just scream a lot at it. Lightning and I seem to share a pretty disfunctional relationship.