On September 16, there was a line of thunderstorms that approached Independence. It was about eleven o'clock at night and my family and I had just returned home from a Sporting KC soccer game (what a great win!). Anyone who really knows me, knows that eleven pm is about two hours past my bedtime. Within me, there was an even greater storm brewing. Was I going to grab my camera and go (hopefully) capture some lightning images, or was I going home to sleep...?
Although my wife was tired also, she was going to be my savior. I casually asked her if she wanted to go with me. Inwardly hoping that she would refuse so that I would be able to climb into bed and dream of... well, I don't actually ever remember my dreams. But I digress.
It had been a long week. I had coached 3 soccer games and so my wife was in charge of the rest of the activities... and there were plenty. My daughter had played tennis on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. She had marching band on Monday after tennis, and choir after tennis on Thursday. My son had baseball on Tuesday and Thursday. I was sure she would decline the invitation. Then, to my shock, she agreed!
With visions of sleep fading from my head, I started to think about where to go to try to capture some compelling images. I've done lightning photography several times, from several different places. This time I was going to return to McCoy Park, one of the places where I'd had some luck before. Several factors led me to this decision. One, they had picnic shelters that I could be under to avoid the rain. Two, they had objects that I could use in the foreground of my images to add some interest. Three, and most importantly, it was close to home and I would be able to get home, quickly, to get to bed!
Lightning photography, for me, is very similar to firework photography. I use the interval timer on my D7500, hit start, then sit back and watch the show. Settings have taken me several times to get narrowed down, but if I use 6 second exposures at ISO 100 and f/5.6, I get the kind of images that I like. They also take very little post processing. I use my kit lens (18-55mm) and shoot at 18mm so that I can capture more of the sky, increasing my odds of capturing some lightning.
I took about 300 images that night, and got 26 that I considered keepers. I know that doesn't sound impressive, but for randomly capturing images of random lightning strikes in a random part of the sky... I liked my results. The nine best shots are what are featured in the attached collage. More importantly, I spent some wonderful time with my wife watching God provide us with a 'natural firework' show.
Song: Lightning Crashes by Live
"HE covers HIS hands with lightning and commands it to hit its mark"