Lighthouse to nowhere

A shot from our trip to Nantucket in August 2011. The guidebook advertised this lighthouse as perched precariously on the cliff edge. ‘Photo op!’, thought I and dragged the family out there only to find that it had been moved! It is now situated in some fairly uninspiring and very safe scrub. At least the sky was interesting enough to make it worth converting this shot to black and white, pushing the blues towards black and the vegetation towards white to create a pseudo-infrared effect.

No such thing as bad weather

“Storm over Nantucket”

While I typed yesterday’s blog post, hailstones the size of marbles were rattling my roof. This April shower made me think of a saying which the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations attributes to John Ruskin: ‘There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather’. Although it is highly unlikely that Ruskin had us mind, for photographers this saying is entirely apposite. Changeable weather brings interesting skies for landscapes. Cloudy weather brings diffused light that is perfect for macro work or portraits. Rain leaves colours refreshed, foliage sparkling with droplets. Mist highlights structure and outline in the landscape, and snow is the perfect natural reflector for portraits. Probably for the outdoor shooter, clear blue skies and baking sun are just about the worst weather there is. There’s no pleasing some people!

So imagine my delight when, after a ‘perfect’ summer day on holiday in Nantucket last August, the evening brought one of the best storms I have experienced. From the balcony of our pontoon-cottage I watched the show for a full two hours. Today’s photograph is my favourite from the many I took. This was my first experience of shooting lightning. I want more!
The technical bit: To take lightning shots you should use BULB mode with a cable/remote release. That way you can keep the shutter open and close it immediately after an arc. But, if your cable is broken (grrr!) you can try using long exposures and self timer. I used a series of 30 second exposures over two battery-draining hours. Sometimes the shots were over exposed as I couldn’t close the shutter for fear of joggling the camera. Sometimes I got lucky. ;o)
Canon EOS 5Dii, 24-105mm L lens, tripod. 24mm, f/8, 30secs, ISO400, -1EV.