July 3rd, 10pm, my wife and I are enjoying the evening reading books on our deck. We noticed some “interesting” clouds moving our way. After much deliberation I decided to pack up my cameras and head out just in case it turned into something. It did! There were a lot of giant sparks emanating from the clouds and heading more or less earthward. It was very enjoyable to watch. My first stop was south of Joffre across the river looking NE as one of the storms was heading away from me. It almost seemed like the thunderstorm was dissipating as very few lightning strikes were present. I tried an exposure anyway and managed to capture this lightning strike.
Within minutes of this strike the storm gained some life as it started putting the odd CG(cloud to ground)strike from the back of the storm, although there were many that only lit the clouds up from inside. After setting up my camera I hit the shutter and waited, and waited, and waited. I was only seconds from stopping the exposure, to head for another location as more storms were around me, but thought I would pack up my second tripod first and then end it. As I was getting the other tripod into the car I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. Quickly swinging my head to the screen on the back of my camera, I confirmed that it had indeed captured the strike pretty much exactly where I would want it!
My second location was north of the river now and slightly SW from Joffre looking south. A very active storm was travelling perpendicular to me about 10 km or so away. It was getting dark at this point and was very hard to focus the camera. Subsequently, I missed the focus on this second image slightly, so unfortunately no large prints can be made from it even though it looks fantastic on the internet.
I travelled a bit further to the NW and situated myself near a very tall radio antenna somewhat SE from Blackfalds and almost directly south of Lacombe. Another very large storm was approaching quite quickly with a rather high volume of CG strikes. Blackfalds and Lacombe were in the direct line of fire. I put on a zoom lens allowing me to get a tighter shot of the strikes and a lens which is weatherproof, just in case. It was far easier to focus now as I had all the streetlights to use as an aid.
As the storm moved east it was about to hit Lacombe. I really wanted a shot of a CG right into the city There were a few near misses like this one.
But, perseverance paid off and wammo! Right into the middle of the city. From what I have heard, it knocked out some power locally and was a very loud crack that was quite frightening for those near it! I was quite a distance away as I was using a telephoto zoom lens remember. I did hear the boom, but it took a bit of time, travelling at 3 seconds a kilometre, to reach me.
A completely satisfying time. I could easily have stayed out much later, but I had to work in the morning. I returned back home around 12:30am or so, but was pretty pumped after all the excitement and it took me another hour at least to finally fall asleep!
[ Olympus E-M5II, M.Zuiko 9-18mm, M.Zuiko 14-150mm ]