M31, a chicken crossing a road, lunar planes and LIGHTNING.

October 26, 2013  •  1 Comment

I first took a photo with a “proper” camera in my teens – an old Olympus OM10 – complete with a wind-on film and manual adapter….


What was the first subject of my nascent interest in photography? Not a bird or a badger but actually the Andromeda Galaxy sitting in the night sky high above the recreation ground behind the house where I grew up.


Since then I’ve had far more years when I haven’t had a camera (only really started photography again a handful of years ago) but the Andromeda Galaxy still remains the “furthest away subject” I’ve ever photographed – but only by about 16,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles.


I actually don’t have that many photographic ambitions (or non-photographic ambitions to be fair). Maybe it would be nice to get a really nice, clear shot of a swift leaving a nest for the first time (I think that will come), maybe a digger wasp taking a hoverfly back to its nest (I haven’t the patience to wait for that it seems), maybe the captain of my beloved Bristol Rugby Club lifting the Premiership Trophy one day (NO chance!).


Have I realised any photographic ambitions? Well…. I did always want to take a photo of a chicken crossing a road – and my champion layer Couven helped me with that job.




I have always wanted to take a photo of a plane in front of the moon (NOT photo-shopped like most of those shots you see on “tinterweb”) but I have done that quite a few times now

Fly me to the moonFly me to the moon

– and again very recently – so now I guess I’d quite like to shoot the ISS (International Space Station) in front of the moon (do-able I think with a little help and a lorra lorra luck (weather-wise) maybe), but that’s about it really – like I say – I tend to just photograph what I see and don’t tend to have lists to shoot or ambitions as such.






We all LOVE a good old thunderstorm don’t we? With lightning. You know… REAL (bolt) lightning – none of that sheet lightning guff.

It gets your heart going and reminds you just how small you are - well…. it does me anyway. I have always had in mind to eventually get a bolt of lightning or two on film (or sensor!).


This week I made good on that ambition. Just.

Not really in the way I had envisaged – I had imagined perhaps that I’d be lucky enough one day to shoot a famous vista (the Post Office Tower in London or the Forth Rail Bridge) in an electrical storm, being struck repeatedly by blue bolts of crackling electricity.


It didn’t really happen like that.


I have a half-decent knowledge of basic photographic techniques I think now. I know how to photograph lightning, given the chance. A basic set up might be locate the area of the sky where the bolts are occurring, select a pretty wide-angle lens, manual focus to jusssst below infinity (infinity doesn’t work on most lenses), and run off multiple exposures of sayyyy 30 seconds at quite a low ISO, from a tripod. Of course you have to shelter the camera from the rain also – best really to photograph a distant storm (rain in the distance also) rather than one right on top of you.


I was watching the final of “Bake off” with moy woyf last Tuesday when suddenly all hell broke out in the skies above. It wasn’t because one of the contestants (Ruby) actually smiled (the phrase “looks like a smacked dog” wouldn’t do her justice), it was because a very short-lived, narrow band of thunderstorms were moving across the country and were at that moment right over SE Berkshire, where we live.


That was the end of “Bake off” as far as I was concerned.


Out came the camera, off came the 70-200 lens, on went the 10-22 lens (set to 20mm and manually focused just to below infinity as described above), and out we went, me, my camera, a tripod and a cardboard box to prevent the camera getting drenched – as it was pi…. precipitating down very heavily by then.


I took three exposures of the sky, each thirty seconds long and in that 3 minutes (in my old 40D the camera takes another 30 seconds to “write” the photo onto the CF card after each 30 second exposure) I got thoroughly soaked.


But it was worth it I think – I DID get a shot of two bolts of lightning from one exposure – by the fourth time I opened up the camera’s shutter it was clear the lightning at least was over and I needed to get dry again!


The result is below. Like I’ve said, not quite what I’d envisaged for my first ever lightning shot, but not too bad really - next time I’ll endeavour to be more prepared and proactively PLAN a lightning shoot eh?


Insane bolt.




David Turner(non-registered)
Enjoyed reading the build up to the lightening photograph, Boyo. A couple of other photographs brought back happy memories!
The lightening photograph is superb, all the effort was well worth it. Much better than watching Bake Off!

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