Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An already good day capped off with a bright spot or two

Dark clouds above a few bolts of lightning on the northwest end of Lake Washington in Melbourne.

This was the shot with the most cloud-to-ground bolt action, with the one to the right having a nice branching form.

Toward the end of an already exciting day for photography - with the launch of Atlantis on Monday - I noticed sporadic flashes of light out the window of my apartment.

Venturing outside, I saw a lightning storm approaching from the west. It was the first nighttime storm of the season, so I wanted to get some photos.

My equipment, though, was spread across my living room carpet. In a disorganized rush, I grabbed my Nikon and my tripod and left without thinking I would need anything more.

lightning_vertical_0148Lake Washington in Melbourne, my usual place for viewing sunsets, seemed to be the most logical place to photograph a storm in the west. When I arrived, I realized it was a large system that was blowing through most of the 72-mile-long Brevard County. Lightning flashed all along the lake. The storm was more severe up north near Kennedy Space Center, where the shuttle had launched earlier in the day.

Because it was at a distance, though, the bolts were not large. They were frequent, which afforded me the chance for several shots without the remote control that is needed for nighttime photography. I left it on the floor of my apartment. Darn.

I set up my new Manfrotto tripod along the muddy shore. Later, I found that sand had gotten into its joints. Darn again.

The storm moved closer, and it started to rain. The lightning was bigger, with some bolts (similar to the ones seen here) crawling across the sky. With my new camera in video mode, I experimented with filming the storm. I held the camera over the sill of my car window, both of us getting pelted with rain. A little dampness would be worth a video of some of the crawlers, I told myself. And indeed, a bolt flashed perfectly in the sky where my camera was pointed. But I discovered that I had never hit "record."

My camera was soaked for nothing. Darn once again.

I drove back to my apartment, however, satisfied with a day of shuttle and lightning shooting. With much-needed rain falling on the east coast of Florida, frogs attempted to cross my path. Of course, they were squished. Yet more casualties of this excursion. But again, it was worth it.

The only shot I captured with a cloud-to-cloud bolt.

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