Alex Bamford Photography

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The Mother of all Storms

Late last night, well early this morning, an epic thunderstorm hit Brighton. I'd had a go at photographing the lightning a few weeks back but I managed to miss the brunt of the action and just got soaked instead. This time there was no missing it. It was active enough as I set up my tripod to make me think I'd missed out again but it carried on raging for another two hours. 

The shots below are 30 seconds long (at f9 and ISO 200 for the techies). On a moonlit night a long exposure would leave the sea in a milky calm but lightning acts like a large flash gun, freezing the action so you can clearly see the waves and even the odd daredevil seagull. 

Depending upon the sort of flash you get - some light up the whole sky above the clouds rather than fork down beneath them - you get different colours. In my second shot below, the sea is a rich turquoise. I could see it as the lightning struck so I was really pleased it came out on the photo.

The rains came by the time of the third shot, and they were torrential. Fortunately the wind was off shore so the lens stayed relatively dry. I'd also grabbed a plastic bag and a rubber band on my way out so I could fashion a makeshift raincoat for my camera. It meant I could see what I'd just shot but I could keep shooting for longer.

Shooting lightning is very hit and miss, I took well over a hundred exposures over two and a half hours to get these three images and I was completely drenched by the time I got home. I would do it all again though. That was a most exhilarating experience.