lightning

Commercial Hotel Night Photography Albuquerque San Mateo Inn

Commercial Hotel Night Photography Albuquerque San Mateo Inn

Lightning in Commercial Hotel Photography Albuquerque

Almost one month to the day I returned to the San Mateo Inn for more commercial exterior photography, this time at night! My first shoot was all during the day with clear blue skies overhead. For this second shoot right after sunset, the clouds were rolling in and a storm was approaching. I was working as fast as I could with my new Sony a7R IV mirrorless camera. In fact this was the very first shoot I used it for! I could hear the thunder and see the lightning, and in a happy accident, during one long exposure photo of the front of the hotel, I caught a sharp bolt of lightning! I got the remaining photos I needed of the pool and front sign, and was back home safe and dry before the actual rain started. Thank you to the owner, Yvette, for braving the storm with me and watching my back as we were very close to the road to get some of these shots.

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Lightning Across a Pink Florida Sky

Lightning Across a Pink Florida Sky

Pink Lightning over Florida

With all the storms across the midwest, it made me recall the storms that would strike Florida, some of which allowed me to still take my camera out and capture how they transform the sky into, in this case, a palette of electric pink. This is the view along the seawall of the apartment complex I lived at in St. Petersburg, Florida. On calm days manatees and dolphins could be seen from this spot, but this evening a powerful and beautiful thunderstorm dominated the horizon.

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Lightning Fine Art Photography St. Petersburg Florida Snell Isle Composite

Lightning over Smacks Bayou, Snell Isle, St. Petersburg Florida fine art photography - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 17.1 secMy after dinner twilight walk with Kiki was thwarted this evening by rain and lightning.  So after going back inside I mounted my Nikon to my tripod to see if I could get lucky and capture a few bolts.  Of course the lightning was striking much more frequently when I was out with Kiki than when I was actually out with my camera, but with some patience I finally got enough lightning in a shot to fill the frame.  The image above is a slight composite of two images to add just a bit more lightning.  

Severe Lightning Storm & Waterspout over St. Petersburg Florida June 2013

Severe lightning strikes in St. Petersburg Florida during a powerful June 2013 storm - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 bulb mode lens covered until strike tripod mounted with cable releaseWhile out teaching a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson in downtown St. Petersburg on June 25, 2013 my photography student and I were treated (?) to a spectacular view of a powerful storm that produced a waterspout, funnel clouds and ground shaking lightning.  While keeping a safe distance, I was able to quickly setup to try and capture some lightning shots.  This means setting the shutter speed to bulb mode and covering the front of the lens until lightning is visible and keeping the lens exposed just long enough so the overall shot looks good.  I only had three chances and was lucky enough to get the above lightning photograph on that third try.

Waterspout over Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg Florida June 2013 - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1.6 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseThis waterspout attracted a lot of onlookers.  In grew in size greatly and I could not get my camera around the tree in the foreground to show its full length.  It was eerily translucent and silent dipping up and down from the clouds above.

Oncoming ominous storm clouds approach St. Petersburg Florida waterfront - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseThis is the approach to the storm before we saw any lightning, waterspouts or funnel clouds.  I had never seen such a long, thin band of angry looking clouds stretch all the was from Tampa Bay to south St. Petersburg.  The sun was going down adding a bit of pretty color to the underside of what really was a menacing stormy sky.

Funnel clouds came from this cloud band along the downtown St. Petersburg Florida waterfront - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 5-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseTurning and looking to my right from the same spot as the previous photo shows just how long that band of clouds stretched too.  Right above the sailboats two funnel clouds would eventually form right in front of us!  They never touched the ground and all we ended up was a little wet once the rain came, but the storm added a lot of excitement to our photography lesson!

Heat Lightning in the Cloud Heavens over Florida

Space Stars Earth Cloud Lightning Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 20.4 sec bulb mode tripod mounted with cable release

As Kiki and I were returning from our customary after dinner walk, before us in the deep twilight sky was a large cloud flashing from within.  I went out onto my back patio with Nikkor 80-200mm mounted to my Nikon D300 mounted to my Induro CT214 tripod having set the shutter speed to bulb mode.  I put the focus on infinity, the focal length to 80mm, locked the ballhead, connected the cable release and began making long exposures noting the flashes of light.

Heat lightning is a common sight in the Florida night sky, but rarely do you see distinct bolts of lightning creep horizontally across an isolated cloud.  Usually the sky just flashes in general, and unfocused giant flash bulb.  Tonight this cloud formation appeared as a witch's cauldron brewing a silent power.

Clouds illuminated from within before the night sky - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 14.7 sec bulb mode tripod mounted with cable releaseStill, the lightning was very elusive and most of my shots turned out like the one above, revealing only the flash, not the bolt.  

Lightning Photographs over Smacks Bayou Snell Isle St. Petersburg Florida

Lightning branched out high and low over Smacks Bayou Snell Isle St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 25.2 sec (but card covered most of the time) tripod mounted with cable releaseThis evening I finally had the opportunity to photograph lightning conveniently right from my own back patio.  While I was eating dinner I watched and listened to a strong storm approach.  First came very heavy rain, always needed for the flaura and fauna of the area, and it also cools things down nicely outside.  

Lightning trickling out from the clouds above Smacks Bayou Snell Isle St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 31.8 sec (but card covered most of the time) tripod mounted with cable releaseThe rain for the most part ceased, but numerous lightning strikes were still visible from exiting storm.  These conditions allowed me to first get out onto my back patio and then even out into the open to try and capture a few of the lightning bolts dancing all over the sky, as many bolts did not touch the ground, but rather spread like cracking ice parallel to the horizon.

A single strong lightning strike over Smacks Bayou Snell Isle St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 1.2 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseI used the same techniques for photographing fireworks to make these lightning images.  I detailed the shooting process here.  I hope to have more chances for different kinds of lightning shots as the summer thunderstorm season continues into August.