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The electric man

Lightning Photo in Memphis

You know how you look at clouds and see shapes and animals and people and anything else that somehow pops into your head?

I almost never do that, and when it comes to lightning, this would be the first time. But in looking at this strike I shot in Memphis, I feel like I’m watching some giant man walking right to left, with a bunch of spindly arms stretching everywhere. If only I had captured him before he walked behind the tree!

The monsoon season has “officially” started here in Arizona and while it’s unbelievably hot already (115 this week), it’s also crazy dry and no storms are in the forecast until at least the middle of next week. And that’s just an outside chance.

I’m getting antsy though. It’s hot. It’s blue skies. It’s unbearable to be outside. I haven’t shot anything non-portrait since the 12th.

I’m begging you storms…get here. I need the clouds, the sunsets, the rain, the lightning, the contrast with the Four Peaks…gimme, gimme, gimme!

Have a great Friday everyone!

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/5.0, iso 100, 25 sec)

Static

I’m kind of anal when it comes to the composition of lightning shots. I like a certain look, a certain kind of strike, a certain kind of framing and if I don’t have it, I’ll just throw out the image. Examples are capturing only HALF a strike. You were aimed in the general area but the bolt obviously has a lot going on off-camera that you missed. That’s not good enough for me.

Anyways, this bolt has a pretty intense tendril going off camera, but for the most part, the entire strike is in the center of the frame. It’s definitely not my favorite lightning shot of all time, but the reason I’m posting it is how amazed I am at all the small details. If you look closely towards the top (and anywhere really) you can see tons of faint lines of less intense tendrils going everywhere. I love it. I don’t think my shots from last year had this much detail in them and I’m stoked to see what happens this summer.

I find this stuff just utterly fascinating. This was shot just a few weeks ago in Memphis. The official start to the Arizona monsoon season was yesterday, but so far the outlook is at LEAST 2-3 weeks away before we start seeing that seasonal storm flow begin. I’m getting antsy.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 100, f/5.0, 20 sec)

Triple Threat

(Click to see a bit larger, with a nice, dark background)

I’ve had the Canon 5D Mark II since around February and while it’s obviously an awesome camera, it’s going to be a lot of fun when it comes to lightning photography. Fun not just in the lack of a lot of noise for long exposures, but also with the full sensor allowing you a lot more freedom in cropping.

Because of all those megapixels…it’s a lot easier to fix a shot when the lightning appears off-center and not in a good way. For example, this shot was taken with my wide angle when I really should have been using the 50mm or even the 85mm. But the storm had just come over top of the house so I left the camera under the umbrella outside shooting shot after shot, and didn’t realize how far it had gotten away from us before it was too late.

Either way, a little bit of a crop and boom, you’ve got this awesome triple-strike bolt that all seems to originate from one spot.

Goodness I can’t wait for monsoon season out here! Need me some storms, the boring blue sky and 106 degrees is killing me!

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 24mm, f/5.0, iso 100, 30 sec)

First lightning of the year

Lightning strikes in Memphis

I knew it would work out this way. After spending three days driving 2200 miles stormchasing the midwest…and getting essentially nothing…all it took was a vacation to Memphis and standing outside on the patio to get my first real lightning shots of the season. I did get a few in Nebraska two weeks ago, but they were from pretty far away and don’t really measure up to my standards *tee hee*

I actually did take my bro-in-law’s car and drove about 1/4 mile down the road to a more open area to get the shot above, but most of the stuff just came over the house for 2-3 hours and it was easy pickin’s.

One thing I did learn last night: I love my Canon 85mm 1.8 lens for shooting lightning. The photo above was with that lens and it’s uncropped. If you zoom into the full-sized version, you can see even more lightning trails. LOVE IT. Clear, crisp…wonderful. Can’t wait to use it this monsoon season.

As always, you can click on the image to see it larger!

(exif above: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/5, iso 100, 25 sec)

(exif below: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5, iso 100, 20 sec)


 

Figures