Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Florida Keys Day 2, Part 3 | My best daytime lightning photo yet

Before this bolt, another had struck in the same area, so I started firing and ended up with this shot. I was standing atop my trunk when shooting.

Photographing lightning at night isn't terribly difficult - as long as you're willing to chase after it and stand outside with a metal tripod during the storm. As long as the camera's shutter is open, all you have to do is wait for a strike. It's not incredibly strenuous.

But shooting bolts during daylight takes a great amount of patience, perseverance and luck. During my road trip to the Keys, the storms that converged on Interstate 75 in the heart of South Florida were loaded with lightning. If I had been witnessing the storms at night, they would have made for an impressive collection of photos.

Instead, I resorted to shooting in rapid-fire mode by pointing at an area with frequent strikes and depressing the shutter button. Of course, before long, the camera has difficulty saving the many images to the memory card. So a proper pace is required.

I stopped at a rest area while the storms were still well off in the distance, but as I was driving over the entrance to the highway, I noticed several strikes behind me. I pulled over. Because I was relatively low compared with the horizon, I climbed onto the top my car's trunk, stood up, braced myself and set my camera for success: My shutter speed was at 1/320 of a second, allowing more time to actually capture the bolt at some point in the exposure. I zoomed in slightly, at 65mm, to get closer to the action.

As truckers and motorists zoomed by - even a police officer who I thought for sure would stop and ask me to move - I tried and tried to get a shot. Trying to conserve memory card space, I went the quick-reaction route by firing when I first saw a bolt of lightning. Successive bolts often follow the same channel from the cloud to the ground. But they're separated by only a split second.

Still, that was enough time for me to react. After one bolt struck, I started shooting and caught this bolt, which barely fits in the frame. When it started to rain, I packed up my stuff and drove away, hoping to get ahead of the precipitation.

Rain makes its way across the vast expanse of swampland beyond Interstate 75 through Big Cypress National Park.

No comments: