Wednesday evening, Claremont was treated to a spectacular thunderstorm with multiple cloud-to-ground strikes. Having seen the storm approaching while grocery shopping with my son, I hurried to mount my camera onto a tripod and set it up on the covered porch in hopes of capturing one of these strikes.
The E-P1 allows the operator to set a couple of profiles, so with just a few button pushes I can set it to a tripod-mount profile with a 2-second shutter delay, manual focus, the sensitivity set at the base ISO 200, and the image stabilization turned off. To prolong the shutter time, I set the aperture at f/16, resulting in shutter times of a few seconds. With more time, it would have been helpful to turn off the noise reduction feature that automatically subtracts a dark frame for shutter speeds over 2 seconds to remove noise due to hot pixels. A nice view looking over the driveway and the neighbors houses was composed as wide as I could get it without the roof or porch column intruding, but set back under the roof to protect the camera. The image looked a bit bright, so I set the exposure compensation down 1/3 EV and happily shot away until heavier downpour and wind gusts motivate me to move the camera inside.
At this point, sharp-eyed readers (note the blithely optimistic belief in the existence of multiple readers) may note the lack of any accompanying lightning-bolt photo. The visible bolts appeared to strike just after the shutter closed and/or just during the 2-second self-timer delay. While several of the shots showed a significantly whiter image of the driveway and garage, indicating at least one flash of lightning during the exposure, not one showed any discernible bolt. None of the photos of cloudy skies over my driveway, garage, and the neighbors’ houses were of sufficient visual appeal to merit saving, much less presenting.
This would have been a disappointing experience if it hadn’t served as motivation to spend time out on the porch with my son, watching the storm. Perhaps next time I’ll get that shot.