A thundering evening

Posted by in Allgemein

I love thunderstorms. The sound, the feel of strong winds and the unbelievable power of lightning strikes astonish me every time since childhood. After weeks of hot weather, a cold front finally arrived and ended the sweaty period. I checked the forecast, fetched my camera bag and took the car to a small hill a few miles away.The XF 35mm (my always on lens) was mounted,  so I set up the camera on the roof of the car (damn, I just forgot my tripod!) and made a few test shots, as the thunderclouds began to arrive from the west.

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The 35mm gave a narrow field of view, so i had to change the lens, as the wind began to strenghten. The exposure was set to 30s, so the pictures don’t tell the real story, it was pitch dark. I realized I also forgot my small flashlight… It’s quite handy if you know your bag and camera equipment well, so changing the lens went smooth, I just had to take special care of the lens hoods not to fly away.

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The XF 18mm gave a better view on the scene (someday I will try the Rokinon 12mm for situations like this), and the 30s exposures began to capture the first lightning rolling towards me. I couldn’t hear any thunder, so I felt quite safe despite standing on a hill next to my car. This should change soon enough.

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It’s quite interesting how the lightning began to illuminate the clouds, which were just dark on my eyes. The long time exposure reveal fancy details, despite the clouds moving with incredible speed as the exposure only catches the few ms the lightning illuminate them. I began to realize sheet lightning all around me, so i moved the car a few yards and looked to the south.

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Now the whole horizon was lit by lightning strikes. I was standing on a small dry island in a surreal scene unfolding. Bad luck I thought, I prayed for rain since ages and it looked like we wouldn’t get a single drop. Then the thunders began to hammer, so I set the camera again facing westwards INSIDE the car. Being fried alone on a hill isn’t a good thing.

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The last strike shook the whole car. Aside, the long awaited rain finally started to pour on the ground. Every picture now was completely fuzzy thanks to the windshield wiper, so I decided to rush home. I set up the camera on the second floor facing westward again and tried to figure out how to expose the shot, as a single street lantern is shining right in front of my house.

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Shooting through a wet window isn’t particularly a good idea, so i had to open it and place the camera on a few books so I was able to shoot over the window frame. Unfortunately I didn’t realize my camera strap was inside some shots, but believe me, as the thunderstorm began to roll over our house it is quite hard to concentrate on such things.

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Wow, now it really started. There wasn’t any delay between the lightning and thunder, a good sign that it’s time to get to cover. My wife started to unplug electrical deviced such as the TV, we didn’t want those things to get damaged if a power line would get hit.

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Those two last striked were really hammering. As i learned afterwards, the roof of a house right in that direction was set on fire a few hundred yards away on that evening. Maybe one of those strikes was the cause.

The XF 18mm just worked fine in my thoughts. Being one of the cheapest Primes from Fuji, I would recommend that lens to everyone who doesn’t want to spend the money on the XF 16mm oder 10-24mm. The one feature i would really love is a Live Exposure which Olympus features on it’s OM-D series. But honestly, capturing lightnings with manual control isn’t witchcraft, just learning by doing. I hope to get a new learning session soon!

The thunderstorm vanished as fast as it arrived, after half an hour everything was over. I’m glad nothing happened, but boy, i look forward to the next electrical night!