A line of thunderstorms (some severe) plowed into the Twin Cities on Friday night the 3rd of August, so I went out to greet them as they arrived.
I’ll begin with my best shot of the night; looking west. It was the first bolt I saw and since none were occurring when I shot it, I was lucky to get it. Often times, I will not set up for lightning until I see some first. Unfortunately, I shot this in JPEG and not RAW, as I didn’t have my camera set properly. I used Photoshop to alter the hue a bit, as the original JPEG had a bit too much purple. I call close lightning strikes “Slobber-knockers” and this one qualified, as it was within 2 miles of me. I like how it lights up the structure of the approaching storm.
Nikon D5000 with a Nikkor 18-70mm F/3.5-4.5G ED lens shot at F/10 and a 7.4 second shutter speed. ISO 100. Focal length: 18mm.
From the same location (in Spring Lake Park, MN) as the first shot, I also snuck this one in. Above it you can see the striations of the parent thunderstorm (a cloud which is known as “arcus”). My D5K is tripoded and I’m using my remote shutter release, while sitting on the ground to avoid being lightning bait.
Back in Fridley now, looking east. A nice cloud-to-ground stroke along with a small “crawler” in tow. Not awesome but kinda neat. I like it. The fragmented shutter speed times are because I was in “BULB” for my shutter speed and was controlling it manually.
Another Slobber-knocker, and I am glad I shot this in RAW, as it was so close, the F10 aperture was overwhelmed. In post-processing I was able to compensate for that, except for the brilliant flash in the upper left. As you can see, I was not totally level for this shot, but some of that is lens “keystoning”, which you’re going to get at times with a 18mm focal length. I always shoot lightning with a wide focal length to have a better chance of capturing it.
I have been fighting bronchitis for 2 weeks, and I was on this photo shoot for 2 hours, and hardly coughed at all! I guess the cure to bronchitis is lightning…haw!
all images © Scott Woelm – Auguist 2012