Monday, August 3, 2015


Yes, Wisconsin does have thunderstorms, although they have been largely missing in action for the last couple of years.  But the other evening it became apparent that we were going to get hit by a line of major storms that included high winds, hail, and copious lightning strikes.  I felt I had the better part of an hour before we got hit, so I grabbed my camera hoping to get some dramatic sky shots.  This was about 6:30 p.m.

I wound up first at Concordia University, which sits on Lake Michigan a couple of miles north of our home.  Unfortunately, the cloud bank had already covered the evening sun, reducing the available drama.  However, I did recognize that I needed foreground objects to provide context and depth.  I found them in the longer grass along the edge of the bluff overlooking the lake.

    f/8, 1/200 sec., iso 640

On my way home from the lake I caught a couple additional shots looking west toward the setting sun.

    f/14, 1/225 sec., iso 1250

    f/14, 1/225 sec., iso 1250

My regret with this second shot was that I was overly enamored with the texture of the clouds and neglected to include enough of the ground, as I did in the first shot.

By the way, these colors are pretty true.  The sky is a little dark, but that's also true to its appearance.  Essentially, all three of these shots were underexposed about one f-stop, which helped to provide more saturated colors.

I got home with about 10 minutes to spare before the storm hit.  The storm lasted about an hour, after which the sky took on some interesting colors.  So I took my camera back out hoping to get a few more shots.  This time I wound up at Virmond Park, a few miles south of our home, again on the bluff overlooking the lake.  I was a little late to the party for some of the colors, but did get the following shots.

    f/8, 1/40 sec., iso 3200

    f/11, 1/40 sec., iso 640

    f/11, 1/20 sec., iso 640

These were shot looking out at the lake from the bluff.  I wanted to include the silhouetted trees to the left to provide some additional interest to the shots.  These were all underexposed to increase the saturation of the colors.  White balance is often an issue with such shots, but I do believe these shots are fairly close to the colors I was seeing.  Quite a contrast to the prevalent colors prior to the storm.

Here is one last shot, this time looking toward the west.  The sun had already set by this time--around 8:30 pm--but there was enough light to capture this last shot.

    f/11, 1/30 sec., iso 2500

By the way, even though the storm had moved on to the south, there were frequent, if sporadic, flashes of lightning.  I was hoping to get lucky when taking the shots I did.  In retrospect, I could have increased my odds of getting a lightning shot if I had set up my tripod and set the camera for a very long exposure by narrowing the lens aperture as far as I could.  Might have worked.  Perhaps next time.


1 comment:

  1. I love watching storms when I am safe. The sun sunning under the clouds was awesome. Also, love the lavender color of the clouds.