Sunday, September 11

Lightning Up My Life

When my family gathered in BC for several weeks in August, we experienced yet another gorgeous storm at Shuswap.  This one however came with a bit of fright, concern and nature reminding us who is in charge.  From my parents cabin/house, we can see storms coming from the north-west (on the left) and they slowly descend across the lake, mountains and beach to the east (righthand side).

North-West View

North-East View

On August 11, just as we were approaching the yearly meteor shower, a storm began inching its way across the horizon, joined by an array of colours soaking the sky.

Storm Approaching
 From each home on the property, from each road, each outcrop, each vantage point the camera is able to capture a separate view, as though each photo was taken at a different lake.  

Sky Darkens

During this storm a phenomenon occurred, the storm stopped half way across and paused waiting for me and others to grab our cameras to begin composing shots.  I took a few shots of my parents view, then ascended to the top of the road, another vantage point, and set up tripod and camera, capturing the mountain across the lake.

Mountain in Storm Across the Shuswap
Then the thunder and lightning began.  Several years ago we experienced the most charged storm we had ever witnessed, not being able to count to three between lightning flashes and explosions of thunder for about one hour.  This storm began to sound as though it would be a repeat.  The lightning lit up the sky and I moved higher, my first time trying to capture lighting.

First Lightning Shot
Nope.  Not so great.  I began adjusting my camera on the tripod.  As I bent over and peered through the lens the loudest and I mean LOUDEST noise I have ever heard ripped out of the sky.  A clap of thunder that caused me to drop my camera (still attached to the tripod), stumble two steps backwards, then grab my chest making sure I had not been hit and I was still alive.  My heart was racing.  My mind was in shock.  I was still solid flesh and bone from what my hands could grab and my head could process.


I heard someone yelling at me from below.  From one of the houses.  I did not yell back.  I was still processing what had happened.  One minute later my sister and father appeared, driving up the road, to see if I was OK.  They saw that I was alive but a little jarred and informed me that lightning had shot across the sky just behind me after the clap of thunder, into the forest, producing two pillars of smoke which rose up into the air.  A potential forest fire. 

My cousin and uncle appeared in a truck with shovels in hand thirty seconds later; my brother and another uncle appeared on mountain bikes another thirty seconds later to head into the forest to see if a fire had begun; another uncle arrived on foot holding a shovel ready to fight a forest fire.  Some people disappeared into the forest, others headed out in vehicles along the highway to inspect the forest from above, and my father and sister made sure I was OK.  Once recovered, I moved my tripod so I could keep trying to get shots of the lightning.  Truly addicted to photography or crazy.  Not sure.  

After inspection and no further smoke or flames, the family retreated to their homes as wind had blown the storm the rest of the way across the lake, and with no protection for my equipment and after realizing that I had an almost near death experience, I too retreated to my parents home.  No more good shots taken.

Once in the living room, I could not hold still.  I had to go out and try again.  Wrapping my camera in a plastic shopping bag, I ventured out onto my parents porch.  Finding a safe spot under the roof overhang, adjusting the shutter speed etc, and practicing a few times, I was ready for lightning. 

The camera was facing my Aunt Moiya and Uncle Dave's cabin as most of the sky action was happening there.  After many shots, I got these two.  I screamed with delight and awe after each shot.  "I GOT IT!  WOOHOO!"  

Lightning Above Moiya's House

Lightning at Moiya's: Take Two
Those shots got me addicted and I kept at it for another two hours.  Watching.  Waiting.  Adjusting.  Lightly pushing buttons.  Not always succeeding, but getting a few more shots of the east view from my parents patio.

Splitting the Sky

Finding Ground
 Sometimes, I was able to see a flash in the clouds, press the shutter button and hope a lightning strike would descend from the clouds at the right moment.  Other times I would push the shutter button and see illuminated clouds and the storm raging on.  But no lightning.  Still quite gorgeous.  Especially those blues.

The lightning would at times brighten the sky even more and the camera would capture the texture of the water, the depth and variation of colour in the clouds, the beauty of a nature raging.

Revealed Clouds

The sounds would go.  The light would flare.  My finger would push.  Another flash captured.

A Photographer's Favourite

Then I zoomed in and was able to get a few closer shots.  Just hitting the edge of the mountain or maybe the water.  Hopefully no damage done.

Mountain Gets Hit

In the Corner
Two and a half hours later a few nieces and nephews and gathered and they gave it a try.  It was too dark and too late.  The camera could not see anything but blackness and would only capture a void of colour.  The night of photography was over and I went inside to review what I had captured.

The next day my cousin informed me that the weather news was reporting 2,000 cloud to ground lightning strikes in a 24 hour period between Revelstoke and Kelowa.  All I know is that I had become a storm chaser.  I am now back in Le Peg.  Waiting for the next storm to roll on by.


  1. Loved all of the pictures.

    Loved the text.

    The talk of forest fires and grabbing shovels always leaves me breathless.

    Shall look at the pictures again and again.

  2. Wow amazing photos
    what an experience !
    Wish I was there ..........

  3. I am speechless. My heart is reaching as if I were right there in your shoes.

  4. My heart is racing as if I had been there on your shoes minutes ago. Your post was inspirational.

  5. Excellent, Wish I was there!!