I have a Canon EOS T3i. Last night we had a lightning storm and I put my camera on a tripod, set my shutter priority to 2 min exposure. The shutter just would not trip! What am I doing wrong?

  • Hi and welcome to Photo.SE. It's not clear from your question what you did exactly. Could you please refine it? Did you use an external shutter release and set it to 2 minutes? Did you use Bulb mode and held down the shutter? Please describe the steps you took so people can try to answer your question. – Saaru Lindestøkke Aug 20 '14 at 18:12
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    Two more questions: were you in manual focus or auto focus? And were you using a cable release? – inkista Aug 20 '14 at 18:14
  • See photo.stackexchange.com/a/34218/15871 – Michael C Aug 21 '14 at 1:59
  • Turn off AF and use manual focus. With the factory default settings when using AF your camera will not fire until focus is confirmed, and in the dark it probably can't confirm focus. – Michael C Aug 21 '14 at 2:01

Based on your description, my best guess is that you had it set for 2 seconds rather than 2 minutes, since the shutter priority mode on most Canon cameras won't go past 30 second exposures, including high end professional models. I'd also hazard that you had it on Auto Focus with it set such that it won't take the photo until focus is achieved. Since it was no doubt very dark, focus probably could not be confirmed and thus the shutter would not activate.

In order to accomplish your goal, you will need to use manual focus so that the shutter isn't delayed and then use an intervolometer in Bulb mode to keep the shutter open for a longer time.

It is also worth noting that a 2 minute exposure may not be the ideal way to capture what you are trying to capture. At 2 minute exposures, you will a) have a lot of noise from the long exposure and b) the flash of lightning will be a relatively small portion of the exposure. You may be better off to take multiple shorter exposures and use whichever exposure happens to catch lightening that is of interest to you and/or stack multiple such shots after the fact using image stacking.

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