The sensation of standing in front of an approaching severe storm is hard to describe. It's one of those rare instances in life that changes the perception of time. It seems to slow the planet's rotation if only for a brief few seconds. As a storm approaches, the air temperature changes as the wind signals the front's arrival. Birds become quiet. The sky darkens and what follows is truly dramatic. I spend the entire storm season chasing severe weather in hopes of accumulating more of these moments. At the end of the year, they can't total more than 20 minutes combined, but all the effort is worth it.
After my first storm, I couldn't wait for the next. Now, I spend much of the storm season looking at radar loops and road maps. Much of that time spent trying to determine the path and speed of storms cells in order capture the most dramatic images possible.
Last year, I started seeing friends commenting on the Nero Trigger on Facebook. One of my favorite photoblogs, PetaPixel ( http://bulmer.info/peta_nero ), ran a profile of the Nero Trigger's most current product offerings and I was hooked. It's two year warranty, all digital display, and myriad of features were hard to pass up. I also really like the fact that the unit runs on common AAA batteries. I have enough gear to charge or buy expensive proprietary batteries for.
I placed my order directly from Nero Trigger and received free shipping. My package was delivered quickly and accurately by DHL.
My Nero Trigger arrived packaged neatly in foam. The attention to detail was evident. The actual trigger unit is about as large as a deck of playing cards and comes in a variety of colors (black, blue, green, orange, purple and red). The unit sports a bright all digital display with easy navigation. Compatible with all major camera manufactures, the trigger is hot shoe mounted and comes with a free firing cord. This is a great feature if you own multiple camera systems from different manufacturers. All you need to do is swap out the cord, which is about $20. These triggers are not camera brand specific. That's a huge plus.
The function navigation is intuitive and there are no nested options to have to remember. Everything you need to set up the shot you want is within reach with a few clicks. The instruction manual is well written and explains functions in ways that even non-professionals could get up and running without much trouble. You can check out the manual here: http://bulmer.info/nero_manual
The fact that the display is clear and backlit comes in handy while out along some random farm road trying to set up the camera and tripod as a storm approaches in the darkness.
Sometimes in the summer in the Northeastern United States, the weather can go flat. It would be weeks before I had the opportunity to test out the Nero Trigger. In the interim, I tested the Trigger's sensitivity to sound and motion and was impressed with its responsiveness. While other lightning triggers have only one use, the Nero Trigger allows photographers to unlock their creativity in ways that were almost impossible before.
One of my favorite feature sets of the Nero Trigger is the laser triggering option. While most pro level DSLR's have the ability to be fired via IR remote control, the communication response time between a small handheld remote unit and the camera is less than ideal for shooting anything that is going fast. I've been shooting all forms of bicycle racing for years. Downhill racing is my favorite by far. The Nero Trigger's laser sensitivity allows for a camera to be placed in the ideal location for an extreme perspective. Place a laser pointer across the trail and when the beam is broken, the Nero Trigger's speed is more than adequate to capture the action in the number of frames the user designates. Combine this triggering method with off-camera lightning, and you can achieve shots that will truly astound the viewer and leave them asking, “how did they do that?”
As all photographers do, I have my locations that I love to shoot weather from. Mine is at the end of a cornfield with a long run up to the western horizon. It's the idea place to shoot shelf clouds and motherships as the break the horizon in the summer months. The first time I really had the opportunity to put my Nero Trigger to the test was in early August 2013. As I watched the National Weather Service's radar on my iPhone, I was in the right place at (just before) the right time.
The time it takes to deploy the trigger is far less that the time it takes to set up a tripod. With the storm approaching and daylight fading, the backlit display was easy to see and navigate, especially under the ever changing conditions of an approaching severe storm cell. With focus set to infinity and a 12mm lens, the Nero Trigger allows the camera to be set up left to capture the action. For the first time in my photography career, I was allowed to shoot a severe storm from the static location of a tripod and with a handheld camera. This doubled my shots and allowed me to capture wide landscape and detail images.
[Above] Using the Nero Trigger to Shoot Severe Weather
From a safety standpoint, the Nero Trigger allows the photographer to be situationally aware instead of seeing potentially dangerous conditions through the detached reality of the viewfinder. As the shelf cloud approached, I was truly taken with the Nero Trigger's sensitivity. This was the first time I had deployed the trigger in actual weather. There was still enough daylight to obscure minor lightning strikes to the naked eye. All the while, I could hear the shutter firing at the faintest of flashes on the horizon. Later, back in the office, I was shocked to see what the Nero Trigger had actually detected. As I started posting my new lightning photos on social media and my blogs, they were some of the most well received photos of my career.
Along with compliments, I would also get comments from people asking why I would need a separate piece of equipment. Why not use a long exposure of 30 seconds? For me, as a weather photojournalist, this is the most important advantage of the Nero Trigger. When shooting severe weather, the sky is in a constant state of motion. As the temperatures of the summer month's climb, storms become stronger. The winds associated with severe storm cells can easily approach 70 miles per hour or greater. The Nero Trigger allows the photographer to accurately capture the storm with hundreds of images, freezing cloud movement and lightning strikes. This is impossible with an open shutter and 30 second exposures. Never before did I have the amount of images to choose from as I did with the Nero Trigger. It's ease of use and sensitivity allowed me to take my weather photography to the next level. Let me state that again in a different way, I had hundreds of images to choose from. Before, with the long exposure, I would typically have 30-40 images. With a severe weather event, 30 second intervals go quickly.
The Nero Trigger has 5 modes:
Lightning: Fires the Nero Trigger upon the detection of a flash of light
Sound: Fires the Nero Trigger upon the detection of sound, like a gunshot, clap, or snap.
Time Lapse: This allows the Nero Trigger to act as an intervalometer firing the camera at a user defined interval.
HDR: Allows the user to bracket shots for HDR composites.
DIY: This allows for the use of an assortment of sensors like pressure and tilt sensors to fire the Nero Trigger.
Each of these modes allows photographers to unlock their creativity new and exciting ways. The Nero Trigger has become a fixture in my camera bag. It fits neatly inside the Pelican i1010 case ( http://bulmer.info/pelicani1010 )
The Nero Trigger is not only a joy to use, it has taken my photography to the next level. One of the greatest compliments a photographer can receive is the question “how did you do that?” It means more when it comes from fellow pro shooters. With the Nero Trigger, you will be getting those questions more and more.