Knowing When to say When

So I was just sitting around doing nothing tonight and feeling pretty worthless.  Then, I hear thunder outside.  Oh goody!  That means lightning too!!

I have always had an obsession with photographing lightning.  Maybe it comes from my fascination with storms– one of the reasons I like living in the Midwest.

I grabbed my gear and headed down to McBaine, MO (where I am also shooting my final project) and set up shop in a soy bean field.  The lightning wasn’t all that intense when I got there so I just sat on top of my car and watched the storm approach while taking in that “imminent rain” smell.  While waiting, I grabbed a few shots of the light pollution coming from Columbia 10 miles Northeast.  It’s kind of spooky– it almost looks like a sunrise/sunset.  But, these photos were taken at 11:00 at night:

The lights of Columbia visible 10 miles

The lights of Columbia shine through a soy bean field 10 miles Southeast of the city limits

The lights of Columbia glow over tractors sitting in a recently harvested soy bean field in McBaine, MO

The lights of Columbia glow over tractors sitting in a recently harvested soy bean field in McBaine, MO

Then, the lightning finally started to pick up.  I think a good lightning shot needs something in the foreground to make the photo more interesting.  Simply capturing the lightning on the horizon isn’t good enough.  So, I used my car headlights to illuminate a big tree in front of me:

A lightning storm looms on the horizon near McBaine, MO

A lightning storm looms on the horizon near McBaine, MO

I grabbed a few other shots before I realized I needed to call it quits.  When do you call it quits as I did?

A) You are standing under the biggest Burr Oak Tree in the United States ( Strike 1 for me )

B) If you weren’t under the big oak tree YOU would be the biggest object around ( Strike 2)

C) You are playing with a big metal box attached to 3 big metal poles next to a big metal car (Strike 3)

So, I am happy with what I got.  This wasn’t the best type of lightning (simple cloud to ground).  What I really wanted was the spider like lightning that branches off into 20 different directions all over the sky.  Maybe next time.  Enjoy:


4 Responses to “Knowing When to say When”

  1. October 22, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    One of my sorority sisters’ family owns the land that tree is on (they live in that house on the hill down the road from the tree)…it always makes me happy to see photographers use it. But I agree–it’s not where you want to be in a storm.

    Now get back to work, Schreiber! :p

  2. October 22, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    That’s funny– I know the guy that lives on the hill. His name is John. I am probably going to photograph him as part of my final Fundamentals project.

  3. October 22, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Nice job, John! I caught you in a Google search, and saw you caught last night’s storm. The Burr Oak is a great place to watch it. All I got in SW Columbia was sheet lightning, nothing good to shoot.

    Very, very nice.


  4. October 22, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks Richard– Hopefully there will be a few more lightning storms coming our way before it gets really cold out. If not, there is always spring to look forward to!

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