Equipment Info


Video: Every once in awhile, I get away for a night by camping at one of my favorite quick getaway spots. This night I decided to drive an hour to camp at a little group of sand dunes on the New Mexico - Texas border. On this night as I was driving, I did notice some small local thunderstorms forming in the distance. I did not think much of it as there has been a terrible one hundred year drought gripping this part of the United States. Most storms and rain just defuse before much happens. As I watched this storm concentrate into a tight, nicely shaped thundercloud after sunset, the lightning began. This storm was not all that big, but it made up for it in intense electrical energy and light that was just incredible. I set up my camera but did not think that much would come of the images because most lightning photos in the past just lacked timing, shape/composition, and drama. A little bit of luck: this storm was highly concentrated so that the lightning was not all over the sky, but in a very specific area. My friends and colleuges knew after all these years that I wanted a great storm and lighning shot. In fact, several months before, a friend bought me a device that hooks up to your camera just to catch lightning bursts. I was excited to finally use it in a possible successful image, but was frustrated to see that the batteries were dead from me not turning the device off before storage! So I decided to try another approach. I set up my camera with the lens manually at infinite focus (since it was so dark to auto focus), and zoomed all the way the the horizon. If the storm was any further away, my zoom would have given out (luck there again). I noticed the lightning bursts were every ten to twenty seconds. I used the "Bulb" setting for manual shutter release and remotely began opening, counting to around twenty and then closing the shutter. I also knew that if I left the shutter open for more than this span of time at this zoom, the stars around the storm would start to streak too much for my hopeful composition. Any lightning caught in that time frame signaled me to stop the exposure and start another. In this way I was able to catch enough outrageous lightning bursts, stars, illuminated clouds and finally the moon that I could hardly wait till morning to explore the results. After about an hour, the storm lost its gusto and disintegrated while others in the distance gained strength. “Tempest” is an image that records an atmospheric and celestial event over a two hours time span (counting the moonrise). Most of the image, the storm and lightning, took only fifteen to twenty minutes to catch. "Tempest" fuses these various dynamic elements into one photograph - like a time-lapse. The entire images' time span had to be fairly tight as the processing challenge was to keep motion minimal. For example, the storm was constantly changing shape and sweeping to the right, while the stars had their own plans for racing upward. I love photography especially because it can be a engine to capture our world in ways that, humanly, we can not. For example, our eyes have limitations that allow us to "see" in a certain wavelength of light or only in instant time frames. However, by using different tools of cameras, filters, time, light, and patience I hope to share images that we can not easily or not at all experience directly with our own eyes, such as in "Tempest".

Date Added
December 21, 2014
Date Taken
December 21, 2014
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