Chasing the Storm

Pure. Dumb. Luck.

That’s the easiest way to describe how I got this shot, absolute chance. Normally if I see a storm coming,
I head back to the car, keep myself and my gear dry, and don’t take any chances. I’d never shot a storm
before. I was out with someone near the lake and had my camera in the trunk. I was expecting to maybe
shoot a sunset, maybe some portraits, so I left the tripod at home, I figured anything I was doing could
be done handheld.

I almost packed it in when I saw the clouds, figuring I wouldn’t have enough light to get anything usable.
Then the first lightning strike hit, then the second. It was beautiful, then the little lightbulb went off in
my head, the little voice “might as well try, who knows, I might get lucky.”
Then I remembered the tripod… at home… crap.

I tried a few settings, set the aperture wide open, locked my focus, and rested the camera on the railing
of the pier trying to keep it as steady as possible. Longer exposure, in a storm, handheld… I can’t even
imagine how silly I must have looked. I didn’t even know if I would get anything usable. I tried to figure
out the timing of the storm, where a strike might come from next, it was a guessing game, and I was
loving every second of it. After I let the camera shoot in burst mode until the buffer was full a few times,
I reluctantly checked to see what I had, this was among the first ones I captured, and after that I was

I shot almost 2000 exposures that night. Over 99% of them were blank or useless, but it didn’t matter,
from this point on when I hear thunder, I’m grabbing my camera bag.
This photo marks the birth of a new storm chaser.

- Nicolas MacPherson

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