Trust Your Instincts

stormThis was one of those nights I wish I had listened to my instincts and headed out to shoot earlier.I was doing yard work and noticed a transitioning sky and kept telling myself to head out but I kept stalling.By the time I saw the cool clouds forming,I found myself scrambling to get somewhere fast.Unfortunately this is the best I could find on short notice and the clouds to the left of my shot were much more dramatic,but it had no foreground interest that direction. Their was lightning as well but never where I had the camera pointed and I was a little nervous about getting out of the car to recompose.

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The sky was falling

Last week included some strong weather systems moving through, so one evening I headed to this location to hopefully shoot lightning over the farm on the right. I arrived with basically clear skies all around and set up the telephoto to zoom in on the farm. After about an hour, I decided to call my friend who lives about 10 miles away and ask if he saw any black skies? He immediately said the sky was black and winds were howling, but I said yeah right,because this vista offers a view for miles and it was clear. About two minutes later the sky went real black and These amazing clouds rolled in fast. It got so ominous that I feared getting out of my truck to get my camera and tripod,but I made a mad dash anyway. The sky literally looked as if it were coming down on me, and can’t remember seeing anything like it before. This wide-angle shot was out my window and was the best I could muster in short order. Lightning barely made an appearance through the whole event.

Passing Storm

This was shot the same evening as the thunderhead image from yesterday and was pure luck to get the lightning bolts. The evening looked like it was done storming, but as I started the truck to head home, I noticed a flicker off to the right. I set up my tripod just outside my driver’s side window, and hit the shutter every 15 seconds or so in a mini burst. The bolts were very infrequent and miles away, but I happened to get these two on one shot. As mentioned before, daylight lightning is very hard without a lightning trigger, and this image was shot at f32 at a third of a second. I never stop down that far because image quality degrades at small apertures,but my only other choice would be a neutral density filter and with a 400mm lens,quality would drop as well. I captured a couple other bolts,but they were blurred due to me pressing the shutter too hard. There was actually a mini rainbow that appeared off camera for about 15 seconds as well, but disappeared before I decided to shoot it.

Thunder Heads

Actually I am not sure if these are what are referred to as thunder heads,but there were rumbles of thunder in the distance as I frantically drove around sunday trying to get a shot of these formations. I was hoping for a good lightning show,but only saw an occasional flicker from these clouds. Finding a decent foreground proved to be tougher than I thought, but I am satisfied with this one.

An exercise in frustration

Yesterday we passed the 100 degree mark and as evening approached a bit of relief came through in the form of a storm front. I heard the thunder in the distance, so I grabbed my camera and made a dash for the countryside. I found an excellent location that was right on the fringe of the storm,and was rain free but I have never been so afraid to get out of my truck to try and set up my tripod.Lightning was flickering on three sides of my location and was literally within a few hundred yards as it repeatedly blasted down every few seconds.I watched some amazing bolts fire off right behind the farm I was at, but it was too close to even try setting up. I decided to try and get ahead of the storm and wait somewhere else,but it kept up with me,so I ended up hand holding the camera out my window for this image.

This shot is the only image I managed to capture a bolt on despite shooting 146 frames. I saw some really great bolts here as well, but I already knew trying to capture lightning this way was going to be an exercise in frustration. There were several times I had the camera on multiple frames and saw lightning hit repeatedly in one spot,but never captured a thing. Usually I try to shoot lightning when it’s just getting slightly dark and exposures range from 10-30seconds, so you have that window of time that the shutter is open to catch a bolt. trying to watch and capture a bolt at a 250th of a second in daylight is maddening. A lightning trigger would be great but they run several hundred dollars.This bolt was among the weakest all night, but it is the only one I got.