The hail storm that hit Sydney last weekend also carried with it a pretty spectacular light show.
Although my ocean series by now is fairly inclusive, the one gaping hole for me was the lack of night shots, so with the storm heading west and out to sea and the sun about to set, I gathered up my gear and waited for it to pass over head so I could follow it down to the coast.
The trouble with the weather and photography is that very rarely do the plans and the outcome follow the same path, so as I emerged from the heavy cloud and rain, I was pretty excited to see that this time things were going exactly to plan, that is of course except for the fact that I had come out on a night shoot with no tripod.
This realisation brought forward another one, the fact that in over twenty years as a professional photographer, I had never photographed lightning before. It pretty much looked like a studio flash gone rogue so that gave me a starting point.
The light levels were dimming and the electrical storm was reaching a crescendo, so after returning the dog to the car (he had decided that standing on top of a cliff in the middle of an electrical storm wasn’t too smart and wanted some insulating rubber under him), it was time to learn how to catch lightning.
My first attempts shooting at around 1/4 of a second were a bit frustrating as I tried to guess when and where the lightning would strike, I see what they mean by lightning fast reactions and I can confirm I don’t have them.
Gradually I lengthened the shutter speed to around 1 to 5 seconds and braced the camera on a rock and as the storm slowed I was holding it for up to 10 seconds to catch the action.
The first shots with the storm still over head, lit the entire scene and gave an eerie daylight feel but as it moved off into the distance it all became darker and just the lightning bolts took centre stage.
During all this there was one ship in the target zone and the storm seemed to be doing it’s best to hit it, you could see from the angle of the bolts that there was a definite attraction.
The last shot in the series below looks to me like a direct hit.
I’m hoping it was the super trawler that is now fishing off our coast and they realise this was a message sent rather than a lucky strike.