A Moment in the Storm

Picture: Lightning bolt striking the Sierra Buttes reflected in Packer Lake, Sierra County, California

Image: Lightning bolt striking the Sierra Buttes reflected in Packer Lake, Sierra County, California

In my last post, “Dancing with Zeus and Thor” I described an encounter with the power of a summertime Sierra thunderstorm, and capturing a bolt of lightning that hit around a quarter mile or so from where we were standing.

Earlier in the day we’d scouted out this location as a potential sunset shot, before we proceeded up to the summit of the Sierra Buttes. I saw a bald eagle flying within 20 yards of where I was standing. It disappeared behind the trees too quickly to get any pictures. It was my first, and closest encounter ever, with a bald eagle in California. My buddy refused to believe me, until five minutes later when he saw it cross the lake and perched in a tall pine on the opposite shoreline.

After the lightning shot featured in my last post, we spent about 20 minutes taking cover from the torrential downpour in our trucks. As the storm rolled over us and the rain abated, we headed back down to the lake shore. The lightning was mostly obscured within the clouds, but every so often we’d see a fork shoot across the sky. I was shooting frame after frame, leaving the shutter open for a couple seconds at a time, hoping one strike would get recorded. We both got this one particular bolt. I can’t say for sure, but my best guess is that within 90 minutes or so prior to this shot, we were in the exact area where the bolt hit. It was a good call by my buddy for us to hurry off that mountain. There’s more to that story, but I’ll save that for the next post.

After the sunset, I realized I’d forgotten my headlamp, as I was having trouble seeing where the infinity mark was on my lens. There was so much lightning happening around us, I was able to walk the few hundred yards back to my truck, in the dark and through the trees. After I got back to where I’d left my camera, I stood and counted nearly 30 flashes in 45 seconds. It went on like that for several hours. My buddy and I drove back to the top of a nearby hill after the storm had moved on, and we watched for more than hour as the lightning illuminated the skies over the northwestern Sierra and Central Valley. It was a wild night.

Finally, this is one of those images that *could* have one of those fancy ‘Art’ titles, i.e. A Moment in the Storm. It’s good, but I’m not sure it really fits 100%. If someone else has a good ‘Art’ title for this image, please feel free to leave a note in the comments section. I’m thinking that I’ll send whomever comes up with the best title a free 6×9″ signed copy of this photo.

For those that know me, I almost never use ‘art’ titles, but I have in a few past instances where a name for an image really just spoke out to me. Here are a few examples:

Early Morning Solitude
Native Spirit

One more thing; Do you think this would be a good and worthy image to include in my Scenic Landscape and Nature Portfolio?

Image ID#: 110913c_SRA-0295

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7 Comments on “A Moment in the Storm”

  1. David Alvarez Says:

    Awaiting for troubles…

  2. Today’s Shared Links for September 25, 2011 @ Chuqui 3.0 Says:

    […] A Moment in the Storm Pass it on:Email […]

  3. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Wow, what a sky, very beautiful. The land seems a bit dark, but that may be my poorly calibrated monitor again. It’s a good thing you were staying either under the trees or in your truck under the trees in that electrically charged storm.

  4. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Oh, a title… What the heck is an ‘art’ title anyway? The west coast landscape masters like Ansel, the Westons and my father Philip Hyde used straight titles like, “Lightning Bolt, Stormy Sky, So-and-so Lake, High Sierra.” Didn’t Galen use straight titles too? I am not familiar with as many of his images as you are.

  5. sathish Says:

    Great image and story. Bay Area hardly gets any thunderstorms like this and seeing images like this only makes me want more of them.

    The image as such, wonderful as it is, lacks a strong point of focus (there seems to be two regions of interest drawing attention away from each other: the rock and the colors in the clouds on the right, and the lighting on the left). So my vote would be no.

  6. Richard Wong Says:

    A very special moment indeed Gary and experience from what you describe.

    As for a title, I’d call it “Shelter from the Storm”

    I’m not sure if this is quite up to par with most of the rest of your portfolio so I’d say borderline. It’s a good image and keeper no doubt but doesn’t quite gel together for a portfolio shot IMO.

  7. Greg Russell Says:

    Oooh, wow, that is a gorgeous image, Gary! I like this a lot.

    I’m terrible at naming images, so usually I don’t even try. However, I might say something along the lines of “Time to go!” because that’s what I’d be saying if I were there!


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