Pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist. As been mentioned on previous occasions, the time we were in Indonesia was during the rain season, so there was no shortage of both rain and thunder. It just so happened that on the two last nights before we went home, we got some nice thunder storms fairly close to the house of my parents in law. The electricity also went out, so I didn’t have anything better to do than to set up my camera on the balcony.
I think that lightning is one of those things that everyone would like to get a picture of at some point, it’s just that you must have a camera around while there’s a good storm happening at a decent location, which doesn’t really happen that often. Things weren’t exactly ideal on these occasions either; I didn’t have any other vantage point than the balcony, so I was limited in what I could see. Unfortunately most of the action took place behind the tree to the left in the frame above and just out of frame to the right below. I saw the sky light up again and again behind that tree but only occasionally did I get a flash that I could see.
I’ve never shot this kind of thing before so I just had to improvise. The trick is to shoot long exposures, since you can’t really hope to capture the lightning if you rely on your reflexes…it’s kind of fast. I ended up shooting most of these as 15 second exposures and it seemed to work pretty well. Just point the camera in the right direction, start exposing and hope that something cool happens during that time – repeat until you get bored or you run out of thunder. Most of my frames were dark or you could see some light in the sky from a flash out of frame somewhere, and I took a lot of frames. I also saw some really cool flashes that I missed, either because the camera was pointing in the wrong direction or because I was between shots and weren’t exposing at the time.
In the end I got a few hits but I feel that the only shot with a bit of artistic merit is the top one, even though the flash there is rather humble compared to the others. It was definitely kind of fun though and I won’t hesitate to try it again if I get the chance – hopefully I can have a better location next time as well.
That’s all for today, we’ll return to portraits again next time.