Big Bend National Park, Desert Storm

Lightning exploded onto the hills in the distance. I watched hoping one would strike a little closer, then out of nowhere a bright flash crashed to the ground.

The dry air cracked, leaving me standing in awe, grateful that I not only managed to witness this incredible act of nature but was also able to capture it on film and share it with others.

I wasn't expecting to see lightning that day, I drove to the Sotol Vista Overlook in Big Bend National Park to photograph what I thought would be a nice sunset.

As the sun began to set I wasn't disappointed, the clouds started to turn incredible colors, intense red, yellow and orange set against a deep blue sky.

I was very happy with the photos I was getting, when out of the corner of my eye I saw  a flash to the south,  then another. I knew  that a storm was starting to build, immediately I changed my position and started to shoot, taking one ten second exposure after another. Nothing the first few frames then a double bolt ( photo right ), two more frames then another double!

Back to the West, a small curtain of rain began to fall from magenta clouds. I shift my position, focus, then hit the shutter release, a double (photo below right). Again, I open the shutter, another strike, then nothing. After about 30 minutes with no action,  I  started to pack up and call it a night when to my surprise another storm started to build, again moving in from the South ( top and bottom ).

This time the lightning became more intense and much closer, with bright flashes every few seconds. Using a cable release and the B setting on my camera I started taking 2 minute exposures, quickly opening the shutter then hastily retreating to my car for safety.

I repeated this procedure for 20 minutes, used ten frames of film, until the storm was on top of me, abruptly ending an amazing evening of photographing natures awesome power and beauty.

George Hosek





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