Weather is a huge part of why we moved to Montana. Of that weather, it's the summer storms that we enjoy the most. I'm enjoying the lightning and thunder as I'm typing right now in fact. But this one time before we made our home here; my wife and I were on vacation with my parents in Big Timber, MT at the Lazy-K Bar Ranch. We had a tremendous summer storm roll through the canyon where our cabin was. The cabin we stayed in was over 100 years old which really heightened the experience. I was in the bathroom at one point, in a meeting of sorts, and watched the hallway light up from under the old wooden door. The thunder that followed rattled the bathroom door, the floors, the mirror on the wall, and the toilet I was occupying. Honestly, it was the thunder... from the storm. The next sound that followed was my wife and parents whooping and hollering so loud that the ranch hands came over to see if we were alright. What they found was all of us standing on the porch laughing in our underwear staring at the sky in awe being lit up by the lightning and just waiting for the next strike. That night dad had on his Spongebob Squarepants attire. A vision of happiness that I will never forget. Damn city slickers.
I have tried several times to capture lightning in a cool way, which is to say in any way, because it is an amazing phenomenon that we probably take for granted more often than not. This shot was taken outside of the West Yellowstone entrance. I was with my parents (yeah, we hang out a lot) when we noticed this monster storm moving in. We pulled over at the best vantage point and just watched and listened. I was able to set the camera on the hood of the car with some manual settings and got some decent shots. Those are tail lights going by at the bottom.
Most of the shots I get are black, or a partial strike that lights up the clouds. If I could determine where it was going to strike I'd be rich, rich I tell you, a wealthy miser! But alas, I just setup the shot, let 'er rip and hope for the best.
Sometimes I get lucky and a nice solid bolt appears that is pretty far away, but still looks cool.
This is 6 different shots from over 40 minutes that I put together because I know how to do that kind of thing. Also, it's more impressive than 6 still frames that are all just OK.
This was one of the last shots I took of this storm due to the rain coming down so heavily and man oh man, this thing nearly blinded me with science. That bolt must have been right over us because the thunder started before my eyes adjusted. Another reason to get off the porch.
One evening we watched this storm build in the valley and sat in amazement as the moon came over the cloud and lightning poured out of this thing. The sky was totally clear in all directions except for this big ol' cloud. This was dry lightning and it was also silent. There was no thunder from this at all, which was just eery. This storm hit homes and did some damage from what I later learned, but it was awesome to watch from about 10 miles away.
This was a spring storm. The white clouds against the blue skies are so much fun to just sit back and watch them cruise by. It's the storms out here that inspired me to start up my timelapse videos over on YouTube.
I was told that a green sky means possible tornadoes. I grew up in California, if we had a green sky it was just another terrible air quality day, but at least it wasn't brown. My wife and I watched the center of this thing swirl over our house, which should have sent us running for cover, instead we ran to get some chairs. Damn city slickers.
Timing is everything. After we watched a massive bolt come out directly from the center of this storm I ran to get my gear. I setup on the lawn and was only able to be there for about 5 minutes before I was overcome by rain. It was like the storm was telling me to get off it's lawn. I know how you feel Mr. Storm and I respect your wishes.
I'll end the post with the thing that started my day. I got up to pee at about 5AM, which is what guys do. I was greeted with a rare early morning thunderstorm. I'm seeing a bathroom pattern here. I wrapped up and went to get my gear. Luckily I've learned not to put my tripod away and to keep my other camera gear at the ready for just this type of occasion. I've also learned how to operate my camera in nearly zero light which helps out a ton. I decided I was going to try and capture a tighter frame of lightning. I fumbled in the dark to get the settings I thought might work and hit the shutter release. About 5 seconds in I got this shot. I was so stoked that it was in frame and clear. Mother nature is awesome.