Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kelowna Thunderstorms!

It was almost a year ago to the day I caught my first couple lightning photos here in Kelowna during a thunderstorm.  

Last night's thunderstorm did however come with significantly more damage to the area.  Roadways have been damaged, flash floods started, lightning triggered wildfires, marine rescues were required and who knows what people in their vehicles had to deal with.

But every cloud has it's silver lining, and actually the clouds last night had several!


So maybe to experience the benefits of last night's storm you had to be a photographer... I returned to the same spot - being my balcony - as I shot from a year ago. This time with a few new tricks, and a few different challenges.
Firstly, the storm started before dusk, meaning the sky was dark for daytime - sure, but still pretty bright for a long exposure photo whose purpose is to capture lightning.
This year I caught them with slightly more wide angle coverage, to give the lightning some juxtaposition. But, with wide angle lenses usually a wider dynamic range is required to keep your exposure in check. So I had the additional help of a graduated neutral density filter.  The storm lasted hours and I encountered a variety of different ambient lighting situations, and so I had my graduated filter sometimes darkening the sky and sometimes darkening the apartments in foreground, once the night crept in.


Ideally, by the storm next august (I'm better than the farmer's almanac), I will be living in an apartment with a more sweeping view, and hopefully something including the lake. If you go out shooting in a thunder storm, remember your tripod is made of metal, and your camera is electronic. Seek a safe, sheltered location, and let the frames go. One more tip:  I like my lightning around f/5.6 @ ISO200 so you can try that as a starting point.

Click here for a link to the post from last year about lightning.


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