Friday, June 4, 2010

Stormy Weather

Wednesday, by early evening, the daytime heating gave way to clouds and then thunderstorms. I watched the radar as they developed to the west, slid across Indiana and I was out in the corn fields with camera in hand as they made their way to our western horizon.

This bolt (above in higher-resolution) was caught at 6:24 p.m. on 06/02/10. I stood in Sam's lane and aimed west, towards Farmersville, 1.7 miles away. The clouds boiled and rolled and then, just as the storm approached, the wind picked up, a few rain drops began pelting me and the temperature suddenly cooled.

This shot (above) is the same bolt but shown in full-frame. That's Sam's lane on the left (and his house to the left of the lane in the distance). I am aimed nearly due west and the lightning bolt came down just north of there ... just about on the village of Farmersville itself.
I like how the bolt travels through - or behind - and intervening cloud.

This shot, taken one minute earlier (6:23 p.m.), was as the storm began to approach in earnest. I stepped out of the corn and onto the lane to avoid biting insects (my ankles are now proof). How I took the shots of daytime lightning are this: I set the camera to manual and pre-focused it to infinity. Because I wanted the shutter open as long as possible (to compensate for my slow reaction time) and because I wanted it fast enough to hand-hold the camera, I chose 1/40 second and f/8.0.

Again, the same shot but this as full-frame so you have a sense of what I was seeing.

Finally, the is the first of the three successful pictures I took that day. There's just a small bolt visible but this, being the first, the storm was farther away and the lightning was probably hidden somewhat by clouds between me and it.
My success rate was about 30%. I have plenty of shots of cloudy skies!
As the storm got too close, I ran for the house and got inside just as the rain poured down. Then, as the storm passed east (the worst seemed to go over Miamisburg to the southeast), I went back out with umbrella in one hand, camera in the other, and tried for a few more. None were successful.
Nighttime shots of lightning should prove easier - open the shutter and wait! But these have the power of seeing the surrounding landscape. Besides, I don't much like getting up during the night and going outside when the rain is pouring.
The total rainfall was about an inch.