Lightning Strikes at Sunset
So last night started out pretty lazy then got a little wild. I was watching a movie and doing some work when I went upstairs and noticed what had started out as a hot, clear day had turned into some pretty crazy clouds over the area. The sun was going to start setting in about 30 minutes and there was a break in the clouds near the horizon so that meant there was potential for a pretty dynamic sunset. So I quickly shifted gears and grabbed only the essential gear so I could travel quick and light. (One body, one lens, tripod, cable release, and grad ND filter).
I hopped in my car and quickly drove to a spot near my house off highway 99 that had a clear view of the horizon. Note that I definitely had my phone with me when I parked as I checked how long I had until sunset with my handy app, The Photographer's Ephermeris. Also note that there some rain drops falling on my car. Only 11 minutes. I hopped the ditch into a hay field and set up my gear. As I was doing this I noticed a flash to my left, but the airport is only about a mile in that direction so I thought it must have been the light from there.
I take a few shots getting things lined up as the light was starting to get really interesting and some of the clouds toward the horizon were giving off some rain, the light coming through there was really nice. Then I saw a lightning bolt, pretty much straight ahead but still miles away. Change of plans, the sunset shoot just turned into a lightning shoot! We don't get a whole lot of lightning in this part of the state, let alone when the light is this good so this could be good.
There are strikes about every two minutes or so and I'm basically shooting non-stop 2 second exposures hoping to catch something and at least twice I get what I thing is a pretty large lightning strike when I have the shutter open but when I check the LCD there is nothing. Not sure why not, but the strikes were right at the start of the exposure and it was still pretty bright out so I'm guessing the ambient light washed the strike out? I'm not very experienced with shooting with lightning so maybe someone else can answer that.
-Canon 1D MKIII, 17-40 F/4L at 17mm, f/22, 1.3 sec, ISO100, Galen Rowell 3-Stop Grad ND Filter
I shot for about 20 minutes (and over 200 frames) and got all of two shots of with a lightning strike. Which of the two do you prefer? I even moved to my car for the last five minutes and shot out the window because the rain started picking up and I had no gear to cover of the camera. It was pretty dark when I started my car and that's when I noticed I no longer had my phone on me or in the car and no one to call it. I spent 10 minutes in the hay field looking for it but that was pretty pointless. I went home and waited for our house guest Audrey to get home. She was able to call it back at the field and we located it in the dark. I have no idea how it fell out of my pocket, but it turned out to be a lucky night three times!
-Canon 1D MKIII, 17-40 F/4L at 17mm, f/22, 2 sec, ISO100, Galen Rowell 3-Stop Grad ND Filter
I like the second hands down. Although it appears to break every compositional rule it actually doesn't. It's an excellent composition. Don't crop it! Beautiful!
I'm kind-of torn because I really like the horizontal lighting bolt (can you paste that into the second one? Just kidding.) Everything else about the second one is better. Go with the second one.
I like the second one best. Like the composition and the lightning is in the right spot. The first image you need to look for a second before spotting the lightning.
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