Last night I was driving with my son to get a bite to eat and as we drove North, a big storm started looming up ahead of us. The clouds were popping with flashes of light, which was growing in intensity. As we pulled into the drive through I remembered seeing something about an iPhone app for capturing lightning. A quick search in the app store led me to Strike Finder. I quickly downloaded the camera app (it’s only 1.4 MB in size) and then handed the phone to my son so he could try and catch a few of the lightning flashes. He didn’t have much luck but the storm was still going strong later in the evening so I thought I would give it a try.
After looking over the brief documentation for the app, I tapped the Settings tab and adjusted the sensitivity slider. It’s the only setting there is for the app, which makes it pretty easy to use. The sensitivity setting is used to adjust for the amount of ambient light when taking lightning photos. The brighter the skies, the higher the sensitivity needs to be set. Since it was pretty dark outside I went ahead and adjusted it to around 20. The key is to just play with it until you can get just the right balance of sensitivity so that the camera can see the lightning and activate the shutter.
After a few tries I was able to catch a few strikes while standing on my front porch. Unfortunately I live in a rather heavily forested area so getting a clear view of the sky is pretty difficult and I only got a few good examples of strikes. I also had a few stability issues with the app itself. After capturing an image, the app would quit and need to be restarted. This was a little annoying and I’m not sure if it was a problem with my phone or the app itself. When it did work though, it was kind of cool. Images that were captured were immediately sent to my camera roll and could be accessed and viewed from with the app. It’s also possible to share your images with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and email.
The app costs $1.99 and is made by Ubertronix, who also make the the full-size Strike Finder triggers for DSLR cameras. Of course the iPhone app will cost you about $107 less than the full rig. You can find out more about the Strike Finder App at the Ubertronix website or by visiting the Apple App Store.