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The government weather site, NOAA.gov
, declared on Monday that my area of the country would be sunny and hot throughout the week. By late Monday afternoon, as thunderstorms were beginning to pop up all around the state, the local forecast had changed to reflect a 30 percent chance of showers, which was obviously a relief to me since I did not want to live in an alternate reality where the government tells me one thing while I am seeing something different. I have no desire to hallucinate that violent storms are hammering me on a day when the government tells me I'm really seeing nothing but sunshine.
By about 7:00 p.m., the weather radar was showing deep thunderstorm cells billowing up from out of nowhere like a clan of malevolent Djin issuing forth from invisible lanterns of high-speed vertical convection currents fed by heat near the ground. Once mature, these evil genies were marching up from the south-southwest, with a particularly mean cluster bearing straight down on my town. I decided that I would seize the opportunity to set up my camera equipment to try some lightning photography as the storms approached. The first photograph below was taken as angry thunderheads marched close to the horizon and the higher storm clouds raced in like enormous, glowing-edged horses galloping across the sky to cover the setting sun.
Within an hour, the world was darker than it should have been at that time of day, and vast drums rolled the herald of coming troubles. The first herd of storm cells skidded by just to the west of where I had set up my camera and tripod in a cul-de-sac off a quiet street right around the corner from where I live. The nearly black sky had brought the street lights up, but flashes of lightning had then made them turn off, so I had good shooting conditions in front of me to try to catch lightning in the thunderstorms that had missed me.
The awesome shot below was the best I got, almost dead-on, no more than 50 yards away behind some very nice houses in which resided families no doubt jarred quite a bit by the stupendous bolt that had just slammed into the ground right behind their yards.
That lightning photograph above is better than any I had gotten before. I knew that right away. After staring in near disbelief at the shot in the review window of my Nikon D5000, I did a few adjustments to the settings and then looked up to see where the pockets of lightning had headed. Most were just a little to the north of where they had been a couple minutes earlier, but new storms were beating their thunder drums back farther south along the western horizon, so I repositioned the tripod back that way a little so I could catch them as they skidded by.
The word "back-building" was not in my inventory at the moment, but then it was. Behind me, a notoriously vicious thunderstorm cell had become all grown up very fast, and it announced its presence in grand form.
No more than maybe 50 feet behind me, without even the slightest decency to warn me, a magnificent lightning bolt hit paydirt.
My world, my immediate plans, in fact, the very essence of my being, took a sharp turn to the survival-dedicated animal within.
As best I can recall, self-directing motivational speech went primitive:
"BOOM make loud..."
"Pant legs flapped..."
"Take camera... Nikon expensive... lens, too."
"Loud whistle play in both ears. Hate that."
"Chest feel hurt. Man-part feel funny. Shockwave go out there."
"Find home. Open door. Stay in. Loud whistle. Hate that."
Although the rain was coming down pretty hard, I managed to get inside right before the real deluge arrived. Once in the relative safety of my hovel, I paced back and forth between the kitchen and the bathroom for what must have been at least 10 minutes before my mind was right and that totally pukey feeling had dissipated from random parts of my body. Through the ordeal of shaking off the post-traumatic stress symptoms, I was apparently entertaining my two cats, who just sat on table chairs staring at me. I suppose they were concerned about my fine motor skills recovering sufficiently to open cat food cans.
Despite the rude ending to my most successful lightning photography session ever, the evening was a big win. I got a great shot of a stormy sunset and a fabulous lightning strike photograph. As a bonus, I became reacquainted with a very important lesson I sometimes forget, and it has nothing to do with taking shelter when bad storms are about to hit.
No, the lesson I shall evermore diligently remember is much more important: as dangerous as the world where you're looking might be, you can brace yourself for those difficulties; it's the dangers where you're not
looking that can turn you into an imbecile running around in the rain grunting like a caveman.
May the cautionary tale be told far and wide, dear readers.
Great pics, Wraith.
A learning experience is one of those things that says, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.'"
Love thunder boomers. Too bad you were facing the wrong way and got snuck up on though.
Thank you for the compliments.
Soon, I shall post a slideshow of some of the portraits I've done recently to see what you all think of the style I've developed as a semi-professional photographer.
Still, landscapes are often my favorites, even though they don't sell very well, but on the other hand, I do like to see a person's face light up when he or she sees what I've done to make a nice portrait photograph.
I was hoping I'd have another shot at some lightning photography tonight, but the storms are staying well to the south, so I guess I'll have to content myself with some other work.
I'm thinking of posting a recent self-portrait to show what six months of dieting and workouts have done. Sort of a kicker for a minor fund-raiser, if you will. I'm not sure if anyone would want to see, though, even though I just did a very tasteful shot this morning for exactly that purpose.
I'll have to think about it for a few days.
Meanwhile, right now, I should get to work on a couple of projects I need to finish by the weekend.
The Dark Wraith will be back later.
Uh huh! You can't fool me! Sure looks like a photoshop of the Yangtse from space, overexposed and flipped and colored and, and...hey? Nice shot!
"...Don't know why, there's no sun up in the sky..."
Funny you should mention Photoshop, Father Tyme. While the clouds were gathering overhead, I noticed that the mottled, grayish-blue appearance of them looked a lot like some of the digital backgrounds I build to put behind portraits during post-processing. I took about 20 shots as the skylight changed colors and the clouds got thicker.
I did some blurring and other manipulations in Photoshop with the sky photos, and now I have a whole new set of backgrounds for portraits; and the colors are subtly different—more natural—than I would probably have generated with my usual, digitally created backgrounds.
By the way, I do plan to track you down one of these days to do some portraiture photos of you. You needn't worry at all about whether or not you'll look good: I'll download this special Photoshop plug-in so all I have to do is click a button and the portrait subject looks great. It's called the "No Beast" option.
The promotional for the software says I can tap the button more than once.
Funny thing is, the button locks up when I'm Photoshopping pictures of certain elder Republicans. Come to think of it, if I do any work on Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin, I'll have to get the "No Imbecile" plug-in.
I don't think it would work, though. Some things even Photoshop can't fix. (Obama's cater-to-the-Right-wing-whacko policies come to mind. Ditto on Paul Rand's Economics-for-Dummies economics. Double-ditto-down on Sarah Palin's hokey family values hypocrisy.)
If only the world were all digital. The DELETE button would be my favorite.
"If only the world were all digital. The DELETE button would be my favorite."
Ah, but then someone would develop a data recovery program and the teapottyers would be able to recreate Glenn and Sarah anytime they wanted!
I may be in the Heartland sometime this summer! If so, I'll be sure to stop by. I hope they have ramps for us old codgers to get into the classrooms!
Alas! The chauffeur quit this winter, complaining I was dreadfully demanding!
I had to shoot my "Rascal" (hoof 'n mouth) and now I simply HAVE to walk everywhere. Such a bit of trouble! And Arne never did show me how to use it!
(Sigh!) Summer in the Bronx, winters in Wasilla, but in spring a man's heart turns to visions of ex-sportscasters in garters, hip-waders and flak jackets gyrating to old Mom's Mabley and Mrs. Miller sing-a-longs!
I wonder what the poor are doing? Probably trolling for Benevolent Protectorate Crude on the Bayou.
Time for my meds. Ta-tah!
I suppose we could make a few bucks heading down to the marshlands and wringing out some birds. We could sell the stuff as "feather-lite" oil.
Which brings me to the sign I saw long ago in a yard. It read: "Viscous dog"
The danger was obvious: a 10W-40 dog is no trifling matter.
Anyway, I should drive my car down to Louisiana this Summer. It's been needing a lube job, and I could get one for free just sliding around on the beaches.
Who says BP doesn't do right by its customers?
In response to DW's drenching post about water falling from the sky and Foiled Goil's comment at BBB, I had to post this.
Something I've been aware of a while but just discovered most people overlook.
Was it just a coincidence that tricky dick commissioned NOAA back in 1970 to keep us informed of "natural disasters?" Maybe like the mythical flood?
NOAA -> Noah!
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