Approaching Storm, Florida Everglades, 2010
Living near the edge of the Florida Everglades, I often bear witness to Mother Nature’s many spectacles. Beautiful sunsets, captivating wildlife, and during the summer, fierce lightning storms. During our rainy season, you don’t need a wrist watch to know when it is 3:00 p.m., it simply starts to rain. The day might start out bright and sunny, but as afternoon approaches the clouds begin to form, then darken, until they reach a crescendo of booming thunder and crackling lightning.
While most people head inside at this time, I watch the storm from the back windows of my home and jump in the Jeep if the lighting and cloud formations look photographically promising. A few miles into the Everglades there is a raised platform for heightened viewing. Since the land is flat, this platform offers a distant view of the River of Grass, as it is called, and the intense storms that roll over it. I carefully monitor the distance of the lightning so as not to get caught in the storm (don’t try this at home). Then, I follow the dark clouds and lightning strikes as they move across the horizon and adjust my composition accordingly. By calculating the approximate timing between strikes, I opened the shutter (without the use of a lightning trigger) as the bolt entered my composition (I did miss a few).
It bears repeating that this is not a process that should be taken lightly (pun intended). I have found myself way too close for comfort to lightning strikes as the storm changed directions and headed my way. Trust me from experience, you can’t create a very good image…crouched under a picnic table.