I’ve gotten tons of email on the lightning pictures I shot on September 12 near the Hawkeye Ranch above Geyserville. Most were complimentary, while one person said she was “sure it was judgement day” and another thought that I was crazy like a loon to be out in lightning. I’m not crazy, just driven to get great weather shots for PD readers to see.

What you don’t see, or rarely hear about is what the experience is like while shooting the assignment.lightning

For the most part, I used two cameras, one video and the other still to capture the images. I just waited for the lightning to strike during my 30-45 second exposures and hoped my focus was about right. I dialed the ISO in at 200 and kept the lens at F4.0.

But….

I kept hearing a buzzing sound while I was shooting. I assumed it was that power line buzz. It just wouldn’t stop. I kind of blew it off of course, no harm to me I reasoned.

To my amazement, I noticed the scanner antenna on top of my car was sparking blue, and making that irritating bzzzzz noise. Only then did I realize that there were no power lines in the area and that my hair was standing up on my head! I’m no fool, I got in my car right away and hunkered down for a few minutes.

Better for lightning to strike the car instead of me.

The blue sparking I witnessed is called St. Elmo’s fire (I thought it was a movie) and am told by a friend of mine at the National Weather Service in Monterey that I was very close to being zapped in to oblivion.

Got storms?