Category Archives: lightning

The Storm

Author’s note: I wrote this short story a few years ago and it has been collecting virtual dust on my computer ever since. With this current storm brewing on the east coast, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share it. Enjoy.

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Kevin whistled as he walked to work. He loved his job, he was good at it, and there was always a sense of anticipation.
Perhaps today will be the day, he grinned.
He sighed with contentment, as he walked over to a small desk in the middle of the circular room, and touched a button. Instantly, the walls were covered with the most detailed weather map ever seen. He could zoom in as close as he wanted on any location…
Google would be envious, he smiled.
Kevin picked up his clipboard and went straight to work. He checked down the list of priorities, then leafed through the pages. Next, he zoomed in on the central United States, pulled a pen out of his pocket, drew a few clouds, darkened them in, then stepped back to admire his work. Within a few minutes, Peoria Illinois got an extra half inch of rain, just like the clipboard had requested.
He moved to the next item, erased three clouds over Egypt. Again, within minutes, what would have been a refreshing shower, never happened. He continued down the list…
Hail in Russia.
Rain in China.
Sunny in Venezuela.
Hours later, when his list was complete, he sat back to take a break. He watched the swirls and eddies of the world, admiring the simple beauty of it. He knew exactly where every El Nino and La Nina started. He knew the cause and eventual effects of each hurricane, including their names, before they were a gust of breeze. Very little surprised Kevin when it came to the weather, but every once in a while…
It wasn’t even a breeze, yet somehow Kevin sensed it. Somewhere over the Pacific, a bird dipped to avoid a predator, leaving an eddy of wind current in its wake. He could see it in his mind’s eye…
This eddy of wind is just about to die when it meets with a small updraft, which sustains it. The two move along until another breeze adds to their strength. A low flying airplane adds speed to it. It forms a cloud or two and continues to build, now a strong rainstorm. Another storm comes up from the south and joins with this one. Together they build into the most massively destructive force the world has ever seen.
It marches around the world, causing destruction and death on a biblical scale. Buildings are destroyed, entire forests wiped out, islands and beaches disappear. Tidal waves measure hundreds of feet tall cover miles of dry land. The death toll rises like the counter on a video game, as governments try to battle this force of nature. The storm changes seismic stresses, causing dormant volcanoes to erupt. Earthquakes shake the foundation of the world. The Richter scale is rendered moot, as each quake sets a new record. Continents shear away from each other.
Astronauts in the space station record the event, watching in horror as the world tears itself apart, knowing that they will die in the remorseless cold of space. Beneath them, the storm rages on.
Cloud cover, debris, and volcanic ash combine to block out the sun. As the temperature of the planet drops, the polar ice caps grow. Humanity has been reduced to a mere million quivering souls, trying to stay warm enough to survive.
It is a much different planet now, more akin to colonizing another world than surviving on the tattered remains of their former home. A two hundred mile wide temperate zone around the equator is all that keeps the earth from being totally encased in ice. Within ten years, humanity will be extinct. Because of the violence of the storm, and its aftermath, the Earth is thrown off its axis. Within a few hundred years, it will crash into Mars, destroying both planets.
Kevin blinked hard, bringing himself back to reality. He picked up his clipboard, and double checked it.
“Not on today’s schedule,” he sighed.
He erased the small eddy of wind, and the massive storm disappeared. He set down the clipboard, returned the screen to normal, and headed for the door.
“Maybe tomorrow,” he said.
He started home, whistling as he went.


The end?



I hope you enjoyed my story. If you liked it, please read some of my other stories. You may enjoy them as well.


Photo Op 14


Yes, I know. Another lightning photo. I have many of them and believe it or not, I haven’t posted my best yet.

This one is not my best by any means. Actually when I look at this pic, I cringe. I’d been trying for a while to get a pic of a lightning bolt striking a wind turbine and this was the bittersweet result.

On this day in 2010, there was a very strong thunderstorm at this particular wind farm. (That’s actually what they’re called) I was set up in my car, overlooking the wind turbines, getting soaking wet anyway, and trying to get the focus right through the torrential downpour, when all of the sudden, bam!

I wasn’t sure at first if I had caught it or not, so I pulled up the last picture and there it was. I screamed and did a fist pump, punching the ceiling of the car in the process. I zoomed up on the image one click at a time. With every click, my heart fell a little further.

It was out of focus.

The picture of a lifetime and it was out of focus.

I was disappointed to say the least. I kept shooting for another half hour, but there were only a few cloud to cloud bolts. My heart was no longer in it anyway, so I packed up and went home.

I’ve come to accept this picture as an example of what could’ve been, but I don’t show it to people very often.


Photo Op 13

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Halloween is on its way and I just couldn’t help getting a little creepy with my thirteenth Photo Op post.

The lightning wasn’t very strong the evening I took this shot. It was mostly cloud to cloud and hiding behind the mountain, so I decided to go for a drive to find a better vantage point. I stopped at a local cemetery, hoping to get a strong bolt in the background with some interesting foreground imagery.

I was somewhat disappointed that this was the strongest bolt I saw all evening.

Still, it makes for a cool Halloween shot.





Tuesday Photo Challenge – Three

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2012 is when this picture comes from. And tempting as it is, I’ll refrain from using the famous line about dark and stormy nights.

This is yet another of my lucky lightning shots. But then, I consider all of my lightning shots to be lucky. There’s just no way you can plan out a lightning shot except for point the camera where you think it might strike and hope for the best. As usual, I took around 500-1000 pictures just to get two or three good ones. Not exactly a high percentage.

I did give some lightning tips in a previous post, so I’ll refer to that here instead of rehashing it.

Enjoy the pic.

Photo op 4: Lightning lesson


Lightning is one of my favorite photo subjects. For this particular photo, we go back seven years. I was driving home late in the evening and lightning was flashing around like fireworks. It started out as cloud-to-cloud lightning, which just flashed. Once I started seeing the forks, then I stopped. I happened to have my tripod with me and pulled off the road to get a series of quite decent pictures.

This presents a good photograph motto, coined from the Boy Scouts, ‘Be prepared’. I used to have a tripod stowed away in the car for just such an occasion. On this night, it paid off.

I’ve been asked before how I take such pictures, so I’ll give a quick description here.

  • To take a good lightning pic you need to have a tripod. As a last resort you could use a stable structure, fencepost, wall, something that won’t move, and set the camera on top of that. Whatever you use, the camera should be absolutely still.
  • Darkness is your friend in these cases as the darker it is the longer you can set your shutter speed. The longer your shutter speed the more chance you have of capturing a lightning bolt.
  • Make sure you set your camera to manual focus and focus on infinity. Some cameras have a focus ring that can go beyond infinity, you’ll have to try to get the sharpest focus you can through trial and error.
  • Set your ISO low, 100-400 should be good. You don’t want it too bright or the bolt will wash out.
  • Set your shutter speed anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 seconds. If the storm is throwing out a lot of bolts very quickly you may want to stay on the 10 side so that you get more individual shots with lightning in them.
  • If it starts to rain, try to take as much cover as you can while still maintaining your shot. An open garage is perfect. It gives you some protection from the rain but still allows for some movement to aim your shot.
  • Aiming your shot is pure guesswork. Sorry, I wish I had a more scientific method, but I just aim where the last bolt hit and start shooting.
  • Carry a plastic bag in your camera bag at all times. A gallon sized freezer bag is perfect. They’re thicker, providing more protection. If the rain is getting your camera wet, dry it off with a small towel (another important item to have in your camera case) and put the bag over it, then rip a small hole in the bag, just big enough for the end of the lens to fit through. Put the bag over the camera, poke the lens out through the bag and there you go, instant waterproofing. There are pre-made camera covers, but I’ve found this method to be perfectly acceptable up to a point.
  • And we come to the last bit of advice. Get the hell out of there. If the last bolt hit so close that you don’t have to count between lightning and thunder, it’s time to leave. These are only pictures and not worth risking your life for. If you’re being pelted with rain so hard that you have to dry the lens off every few seconds, it’s time to go. Safety first. There will always be another storm. Strangely enough, I’ve found that my best pictures are taken right before the rain arrives and after it passes.

That’s my basic guide. I’m sure I’ve missed something. I’m also sure that other photographers could give more in-depth descriptions. This is just a beginners guide. Just don’t forget to experiment with all of these settings. Make it your own. Use what works for you.

And most of all, have fun.


Any comments are welcome. Do you have some advice to pass along that I missed, feel free to post it in the comments section, have a great story about one of your photo experiences, I’d love to hear it.


If you liked my picture, please feel free to visit my Photo website.