First I hear the sound in the distance. It is not fireworks. I walk out someplace open so I get a view of the horizon. Out there it is. Big bad weather system moving towards us. Clouds dark as ash in big bulgy forms and with lightning coming in all directions. This one is tall and full of energy. Right here it is still blue skies, but soon the wind will pick up and temperature drop. Then the full force of that cloud will make everything dark and wet. I have done this so much and I love it. I feel the excitement grow as I get out my tripod and extra gear for my camera. I have plenty of time to pick a nice spot for the best shots. The best spot means great view and still a way of getting shelter when needed.
Sometimes the spot is not sheltered like a beach or open landscape, and then I bring a fantastic weather tight bag I have. I can stick everything from cameras, phones and other electronics down into the bag, lock the zipper and basically go swimming. It is absolutely tight – I know.
I find the position, secure the camera and mount my digital wire control to the camera. Trying to catch a lightning in one fast exposure is virtually impossible so that is not how we do it. You want high resolution, low noise and get the essence of the spectacular energy show. I set my camera on manual, aperture high, turn ISO level very low and go to Bulge for exposure – and shoot long exposures. When lightning happens inside an exposure you get the beautiful scenes. Sometimes you get lucky and several lightning happens all over your scene and a lot of the time it happens outside your field of view. I move around a lot and I am very patience. Sometimes I shoot for hours without getting anything then suddenly – like in the strike of lightning, you get something spectacular. And that is worth all the waiting.