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06-12-2008, 09:17 PM   #1
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Grounding

So, lately the summer heat has been causing great lightning storms around the Asheville, NC area. And almost no rain. I would LOVE to capture some of these! I have decided that possibly the best way to achieve my result, is to set up camp on a mountain location where city lights are few, crush my aperture down, and bulb it up until I get results.

Here's my fear. The lightning is close. Frankly, I prefer not to be struck by lightning (think of the once in a lifetime picture I'd get from that though!), so here's my setup: Tripod sitting on top of car hood, myself in the car with the remote. I stay safe, and air-conditioned. My major fear (yes yes the chances are slim to none, but a chance is a chance) is that the camera sitting on the tripod will act like a lightning rod. Bam! That would suck huh? I don't exactly have the cash to replace a lightning-struck K10D, and it isn't that I doubt Pentaxian designers, I just doubt that any electrical consumerable can withstand a bolt of eletrical power from the sky. If the volts don't get you, the 55K+ temperatures just might.

Enough rambling. Best way to ground my camera to the car? I would have it in the car safe with me, but window glare and all... Much better to have it raised up freely above my car. So, what's the verdict.

06-12-2008, 09:50 PM   #2
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Camera is cheep, your life is not!
Likelyhood is slim to be hit unless your the tallest object for like 100yrds. Also dont use your sellphone if that close.
Honestly If its that bad (but you still want to photo) either do it from inside the car, or set the camera up with a remote trigger (the infra-red remote F would work for this and you stay in the car.
I have never herd of a photogs camera taking a direct hit (them maybe), but their is alwys a first.
06-13-2008, 06:51 AM   #3
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I would definitely NOT use the hood of the car. Especially if you're in the car, all those little movements will show up on the exposure. The remote should work just as well if your tripod is on the ground.
06-13-2008, 08:58 AM   #4
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Yes, joefru is right. Keep it off the car if you are running the engine to stay air conditioned. Also a quick gust of wind which is quite common with a storm nearby could easily send the whole thing crashing to the ground. Better off setting the tripod on the ground. Sitting on the hood won't protect the camera anyway if lightning strikes. Anything outside of the car is vulnerable and even you if you happen to have any part of yourself sticking out the window.

06-13-2008, 11:01 AM   #5
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note that lightning is the most unpredictrible thing you can deal with.

Quite frankly, you don't want to be anywhere near it, and the direction it will strike is based upon a lot of things you can't see, including air currents, dust particles etc. I would not consider chancing it.

As an aside, you don't need to be close, lightning is a big event spanning hundreds or throusands of feet. You can get a good shot from a safe distance and no lens is wide enough to capture a direct strike within a few hundred feet.

If you feel the need to capture an event from a location as you described, put the camera in a box (to protect from rain) and use a lightning trigger.
06-13-2008, 02:51 PM   #6
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read the latest issue of (shutterbug?) it has a whole bunch of tips for photographing lightning from a crew that does it regularly.
06-13-2008, 04:25 PM   #7
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Put the camera in the car with you. You can use a window pod to hold the camera, turn the car off to avoid engine vibration (no air conditioning, life's a bitch). and you're all set.
06-14-2008, 06:31 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chris Quote
.... Best way to ground my camera to the car?...

Besides the many thoughtful answers posted on this thread, I believe grounding the camera would not help, may even hurt.

Lightning is TRYING to reach ground. That is why lightning rods are grounded with heavy cables to the earth. An insulated camera is less attractive. If you were to attach a ground wire to the camera (a couple of the screws pass through the plastic case into the metal frame) and run a wire to the car or earth it would increase the chance of getting struck. Cars are safe not because of grounding, but because you are enclosed in a metal shell.

Parking next to something much taller than your tripod would help.

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