Kick-ass Sunset
Fire in the Sky

Last night was full of bad-assery. Yeah, that’s right, it was so bad-ass that I made up a word to describe it. After a cold spell, temperatures quickly rose into the 80’s yesterday making for a hot and somewhat muggy day. The conditions were ripe for evening thunderstorms. As I arrived home, I heard reports on the radio that there were some severe storms just west of Orofino. But looking around, all I saw was sunshine and blue skies. The storms were passing to the south of us. As I was washing my car, dark clouds crept in over the field to the south of us, but the skies overhead remained sunny. I heard thunder and the wind was picking up, but still the storms remained to the south. I checked the radar online and saw that Kendrick was getting hit, but we were in the clear for quite some time. I could still see lightning strikes over the horizon.

But then, everything became much more dramatic. The skies to the south began to glow orange, as if they were on fire. It wasn’t quite time for sunset yet, but then the fire spread to the rest of the sky. This was too good to miss, so I grabbed my camera and set up to shoot the sky with the best available foreground I had. The colors just got more and more intense, I caught glimpse of a rainbow in the distance but it was soon washed out by the glowing clouds. This whole time lightning was still striking in the distance and I thought, how bad-ass would it be if I captured a lightning strike in the midst of an already bad-ass sunset?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite that lucky. My exposures were reading 20 and 30 seconds, long enough for a lightning strike  to occur in the frame by chance, but after each shot, there was an equally long delay from the long exposure noise reduction. Often, this is when the lightning would strike. Just my luck. So when the intense colors faded, I was left with blue clouds over a green field and I decided to keep trying my luck at getting some lightning bolts on frame. Well, the lightning did strike, several times. I thought that lightning was so bright that it would pick up no matter what the exposure settings. I was wrong. After recording a few really nice strikes, I would review the picture only to find no sign of lightning at all. This is a skill I must perfect because when it does storm around here, it’s a pretty spectacular show.

The storm eventually moved on top of us and by then it would have been dark enough to capture lightning for sure, but I also wasn’t comfortable sitting out there with the camera. At some point during the night, everything had cleared and we had a great view of the stars. By morning, another storm cell had appeared on top of us, spitting down some good-sized chunks of hail. It seems that the storms have finally passed.

The result: It’s no longer a balmy 85 degrees out there, but a brisk 60. I had to wear a jacket to work today. Nevertheless, last night was bad-ass.