Monday, May 18, 2009

You light up my life

Tonight marks a special occasion for me. I actually checked-off one of my lifetime to-do's of capturing lightning on film (or sensor) and it was all because of a tip from a student. Turlock had an unusually humid evening tonight like something out of the midwest (dp was about 50f or so). Laura and I had noticed the unusual mammatus clouds forming above Turlock and commented on how strange of an occurance that was for this area during this time of year. We both knew the hills (sierra's) would be ripe for storms but thought little of it as we had other teachery chores to finish at home.
Then, a little after 9pm, a student of mine having, had the lightning lecture from several weeks back still fresh in her head, rang my house phone and told me that she was witnessing amazing lightning strikes in the direction of the southern sierra foothills. So I did what any good teacher would do; I dropped everything I was doing, got my camera and tripod and dragged Laura to the plowed fields east of town to take some pictures.
I had almost been killed trying to accomplish the task of capturing lightning in a bottle several years ago while in the White Mountains, and actually tried to take the pictures by pressing hte shutter when I saw the lightning... probably to most stupid thing I've ever done. To make a long story short, I knew that I now had to have a long exposure to capture the lightning, so I set-up my tripod along the canal bank, opened the shutter for 30 seconds and got lucky! Several follow-up shots should have been better but were out of focus! Oh well. I'll learn from my mistakes, and at least have one awesome shot to show my students tomorrow.