July 15, 2007 Local Chase + Local Lightning

This probably doesn't qualify as a chase exactly, but more of a bored evening with some not so great storms approaching. I kept blowing them off as they moved southeast from around Norfolk Nebraska. Finally they looked like maybe they'd be worth it. I load things into the car and get on the road. By the time I get moving and had the laptop running and an internet connection, I could see they were now weakening. Not shocking in eastern Nebraska anymore. I head west ouf of Herman anyway and find a decent sunset and shelf.

There wasn't much left for precip behind the shelf at this point. The sun had set long ago, but there was still some pink over there. I noted a couple cg's finally and tried and tried to capture one with the late sunset colors and shelf. It was still light enough out that I was restricted to 5-7 second shutter lengths(while wide open and ISO 100). So I was snapping them over and over with no bolts. Then a car comes down the gravel road I'm parked on. I had to start the car and pull over a bit more. I basically wanted to have it started and running so if they slowed down they wouldn't need to stop and ask if everything was ok, leaving me to explain what I'm doing, leaving them more of a chance to stick around and ask questions about the crappy storms. So one can guess what happens as I do this. A cg finally! Too bad I had my camera down in the seat next to me now. So they go by and I set up again, and finally catch this one.

The shelf looked fairly cool as it got closer. The rain behind it was dying off pretty rapidly now. To get it without much blur I had to ISO up to 800. This got the shelf, but makes the sky towards the sunset look much brighter than it was. This was taken after the image before it, so one can guess how much brighter this looks than it was.

I dropped south on a paved road, one I doubt I've been on in my life and only a couple miles from town. I found a very nice place just north of 91 and just east of that road. I shot lightning for a while here and not once did I have a car go by.

Some storms flared up behind that outflow/shelf and looked to move into town. I had been talking to Bob, who was also west of town shooting lightning, and we decided to try our spot up at Neighardt Park again. There's a pretty cool picnic thing up there with tables, a thing to cook on, and most importantly a roof, as well as some lighting. The hardest thing about capturing close lightning would be rain. I keep thinking that thing is our best shot(the above shot is not from there). It's really not panned out very well on the times we tried, much like this time. All the flashes were behind it, which is covered by pine trees and parking lot lights. That area I could see was to move over Blair died off and/or reformed east. So much for shooting south from the covered thing.

So with that not working we thought we'd try the new area east of town. We thought where we shot the December auroras, down on the bottoms by the river, would work, looking east. Just as soon as we get there it starts to rain. Meanwhile lightning is going nuts on that stuff to our east. I start the laptop again and look at radar. Yay, just as soon as we left the picnic thing, two small cells refired on Blair and just west. I thought maybe they'd die out and we may as well try over on the east side of the river. As we drive back into town, it begins to pour very hard. I was like great, too bad we aren't still up at the hill with the covered area. Knowing it was raining way to hard to have hope I stopped at the gas station on the east side of town on 30. I figured I could at least pull over and talk about it again using the covers over the pumps.

So, we pull under the pump covers and the rain starts to let up. Then I see a cg directly south. Then I see another. I was like, dude, we should just use these pump covers for now. I slap the cam on my window and point it back to the south. The above image is one of the bolts I got during this time frame.

Not liking my angle, I move to another set of pumps and park kind of sideways. Needing gas I moved again and just pulled out the tripod. I did all this as quickly as I could. I think I was pumping the gas during this shot. I was "pumped"(lol) when I saw it and knew it was in the frame of my currently open shutter. I ran back around and stopped and looked, then emotionally jumped for joy for the next 10 minutes. It's certainly one of the closest bolts I've gotten a still of. I'd imagine it was a half mile away. The focal length was 17mm, so like always, this is wide angle. Note the bright reflection from it on the wet pavement.

After this bolt the majority jumped to the left side of the image, behind the building and that tree. We moved on over into IA to shoot the rest. The spot we moved to was probably 3 miles east of here. Amazingly enough the road was dry! We could have been there this whole time shooting all those we missed left of this shot.

Now looking east.

This is a crop out of a larger image, perhaps half the size of the original area. It did the 2 cg's and that crawler all at once essentially.

I'd say shooting near a city is the best place to shoot night storms and lightning. The added city light on a storm, over a long shutter, just adds a lot to the scene.

Most of that light is coming from Cargill, a massive corn milling plant on the east side of town.

Storms now way east, but that area of lower clouds just wanted to hang around. This is now from my EF-S 10-22mm....at 10mm.