Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What are the odds?

From my last post it's fair to say that a good lightning shot is a one in a million chance that takes some know how, timing and a little bit of luck.

Make that 2 in a million.

A contact of mine, the uber talented Thunder Bay photographer Jeannie Paul was able to capture the same bolt of lightning that I did, all be it from a different location at the exact same moment in time (9:37 pm).

When I first saw her shot on the local Flickr group I thought it was a joke.

Not only did she capture the exact same bolt of lightning within a split second but from two entirely different vantage points and no communication between the two of us, we were both able to compose our shots in an almost identical manner.

The only real difference in the shots is that while mine was taken from atop the hill at the scenic lookout, Jeannie shot hers from her house which is just down the hill to the left, perhaps even visible in my shot were I to look for it.

I think it's entirely amazing given all of the localized lightning strikes on the night that two separate people at two separate locations could manage to pull off almost identical shots. It's baffling. Prior to shooting my shot I had been panning the lens north to south, south to north, following the most concentrated strikes particularly those off to the extreme left of my shot (northeast). For whatever reason I panned back to my right (southeast), noticed the Sleeping Giant slightly illuminated from behind by sheet lightning and hastily attempted to frame it into the shot in almost complete darkness.

Who'd have thought at that exact moment Jean was doing the same thing from a literal stones throw away.

The odds were astronomical. And somehow completely possible.
If one could call that luck or chance then I am going to go and buy a lottery ticket.

Congrats to Jean on an equally remarkable capture. Truly a two in a million shot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life should taste as good as lightning

We had a fairly violent electrical storm roll through the area last night and for the first time this season I had the opportunity to attempt a few lightning shots.

Once the rain had let up enough I headed out to the scenic lookout near where I live and shot the storm as it moved east over Lake Superior.

The way I shoot lightning is usually with a long exposure. Not too crazy, a few seconds, anywhere up to 25 or 30 will usually do. These shots were all about 15 second exposures, tripod mounted and triggered manually (I hastily forgot my IR remote as I ran out the door.)

Kept my ISO at 200, Auto WB, Spot metered at about f/8 to f/10 and not wide open as I wanted to focus more on any potential lightning strikes rather than city lights throwing the exposure out of whack too much. I also kept a Hoya ND x 4 filter on my lens to give me a greater DOF (if need be) and more importantly, to give me that extra one or two seconds exposure time which might have made the difference between a shot with a lightning bolt in it and a shot with some boring clouds. Even with the ND I did miss quite a few by looking in the wrong direction at the wrong second.

All in all I was decently happy with my few results from last night. I'm no expert on lightning photography and I don't have a ton of fancy gear. All I know is that with a few basic pieces of equipment and some basic know how coupled with patience and a bit of luck, anyone can capture a real split second in time and come home with good lightning shots.
It's not that hard.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

A few randoms

So you're cooking some chicken for dinner and the phone rings. It's someone inquiring about your website. The website where you display your work. More specifically, it's someone inquiring about your website in relation to the wedding you've been asked to shoot next weekend.

So you give out your website info to the lady on the phone, realizing only after you've hung up that there is practically no wedding related samples posted on your site. So you decide to go through your last wedding shoot and post a few randoms for those who are looking to look...

(Forgive the fact that the right hand sidebar chops the end off of each horizontal image on the main page. Just click to view full.)


While weddings have never been my strong suit, I have to say that I'm flattered whenever my name is brought up for having anything to do with either photographing or video documenting someones big day. Thanks to those who take an interest and also to those who've been spreading the word. It is much appreciated.

For those interested, although I've shot many weddings, in fact only one "officially" which you can view here.