July 15-21, 2011 Lightning Over Flood Waters

Well I'd been hoping to get some lightning shots over the flood waters north of Blair. (2011 Historic Missouri River Flooding) Finally got a couple decent nights. Problem both nights was the best action was always over on the west end and not that close. I'd like some real close CGs in the water. The other problem is things were so scattered and random in nature, you never knew when something overhead flickering would decide to produce CGs and maybe zap you. If it is over on this edge like above, I was standing out there shooting from the sidewalk. The others would be back at my car. I'm a real big lightning chicken, unless I'm in my car, then I'm cool if it hits 10 feet away.

That distance obviously not a problem to stand out here and shoot. But more often than not there would be various clouds closer flickering with cloud to cloud stuff, so you knew sooner or later those would probably decide to produce cloud to ground bolts. Last time my friend Bob and I figured we'd get a warning first cloud to ground, well that first one that time was DAMN close to us. I find it hard to even convince myself to hide AFTER the first closer cloud to ground bolt. I see something closer flickering in the sky above, I'm back in the car.

Here is a new area now producing CGs. I'm now back at my car, shooting from its window! You could see it flickering more to the west there and knew it would start dropping bolts soon. That is probably a couple miles away maybe. Who knows what the updraft structure is above the lower clouds and who knows where exactly the next bolt will be coming from. Wish their parking area here was over on the hill edge, where the sidewalk is. Need to get a setup with a couple isolated storms dropping south over the water and not this random wide area of stuff. It's just unnerving over on that sidewalk, when you can't exactly tell where the flashing above is coming from. The sidewalk goes around to the right over in the open area.

Another shot from my car. The lightning wasn't all that great half the time. I'm not going to tempt fate on getting struck by lightning out there, especially when nothing much crazy is happening to shoot anyway. Now if some storm out there started to drop crazy branched bolts frequently, I know I'd be tempted to get out and temp fate a bit more. If only this area here had some taller trees or hills. But no, you are the highest point more or less.

This was the second night of lightning. First night Bob showed up and shot things too. This night was solo there. I kept waiting on some 3 a.m. jackhole to show up, but no one ever did. No one even drove through the parking lot. Really nice out of the way city park. Anyway, did some stacking of images here. Point the camera one direction, take shots without moving it, then you can stack them later in photoshop. All lightning photography is a long exposure, this is the same thing, just long exposure using several exposures. Lot cleaner images this way. I under exposed a good bit, thinking I'd get some bright close one if I opened up anymore.

Another stack same general direction to the nw from there. The moon was getting some light in here from time to time now too.

These are all out on that edge, out in the open. I was just shooting the far off stuff for another stack, but noticing a closer area flickering away to the right. Them blam, that bolt comes down as its first and about only CG. I'm not sure it even produced another one.

This night was a bit better than the first one here, largely due to less rain. And it was a hair easier to determine nothing was flickering above you. So this time I got a lot more of them from the edge and not from the car.

Shelf cloud rolls out and demanded I temp fate over there on the edge. I didn't feel terribly comfortable with this overhead but wasn't seeing any CGs from it or closer yet and I really really wanted the scene over the water...with the hope of CGs out there at the same time. Those were few and far between however.

Lost my lightning courage and came back to the car now.

This actually dies out overhead and more or less gets pushed back north. The show just kept staying north of me, though the lightning activity would suck more than not.

Another decent period before sunrise. As sunrise came, a really CG happy area moved into town from the west. Problem was rain did at the same time and the view west here sucks. Wound up at the high school trying to get some shots before it was getting too light. Used tripod in middle of the car with window down, basically to just get my car soaked and no good lightning. Then went home and tried to finally sleep, but no, thunder for hours prevented much. Got about 2 and a half hours. Staying up all night then doing that for sleep really has a way of screwing you for days.