IMAGE: Woton's Crescendo
Story: Struck By Lightning!
After finishing one of my Ultimate SW workshops in whom excellent professional photographer Kevin McNeal attended, Kevin and I decided to continue the chase for dramatic light. Sitting at McDonald's in Kanab Utah, a violent thunderstorm with a torrential downpour struck hard.
We quickly checked our weather apps, and Kevin looked at me and said, “Dude, it’s going to go over the North Rim!” Without hesitation, we jumped out of our seats and ran to our vehicles. We made the North Rim quicker than may be legal, with lightning striking the whole way. Thinking this was “it” we jumped out at the first turn out and started shooting like crazy. In just minutes we captured many lighting strikes (not using the lightning trigger yet).
After some time I started realizing that this was in fact, not “it” and the storm was building and getting more incredible with every passing minute. We both took off to another pullover and continued with the same fantastic results. Finally, after an hour or more of shooting at the various pull over locations, I decided to make a mad dash to Wotan's Throne, maybe my favorite place on the Grand Canyon. As I got there, I could not believe what I was witnessing! Rainbows, Mammatus clouds, God rays, fog rolling into the canyon, lightning striking nonstop and it was all building into a monumental crescendo!
In an adrenalized panic I grabbed my Sony A7r2, Canon 11-24 and tripod and ran to my favorite spot. Suddenly, before I knew what had happened, I was on the ground literally HIT BY AN INDIRECT BOLT OF LIGHTNING!
It happened so fast I did not know what had happened. Although not injured, I was disoriented and terrified. I even got shocked. I ran under a tree and then said to myself, “Mark, this is NOT safe at all!” So, I climbed down about 10 feet off the cliff and hid in a small cave/alcove for several minutes to get my head together (which is not safe either). Finally, looking at the scene, I said to myself “can you really NOT shoot that?”
So, I ran out and began the process of photographing again. Every time I would start hearing a ringing in my ears, or the small tree next to me buzzing loudly, I would run back into the alcove. I decided to ditch the tripod for safety and shoot handheld. I also popped The Lightning Trigger on my cameras hot shoe, and it began shooting constantly. Kevin showed up directly above me and we laughed the yelled out in excitement as the sun began to set, and the scene went ballistic!
I have been photographing Landscape full time for almost two decades now, and this was definitely one of the most amazing captures to date.
Gear: Sony A7r2, Canon 11-24 11mm, ƒ/8, ISO 200, Single Shot!