Along with watching the night skies when clouds aren't hiding everything, I enjoy watching a good thunderstorm. However, there are normally few severe storms in central Oregon compared to other parts of the United States.
But I was pleasantly surprised when on the evening of May 4, I began seeing lightning flashes southwest of where I live. I stepped outside to verify what I was seeing and saw flash...flash...flash. Realizing a storm was in progress and moving my way, I prepared my camera and headed to a good vantage point.
Once I found a good place, I began shooting. I experimented with different settings until I settled on ISO800 with a shutter speed of five seconds and an aperture varying from f/5.6 to f/11. I chose five second exposures because there was so much lightning that any exposure longer would have over saturated the images with too much light. All the images were shot with a Canon EOS 60D and a Tolkina 12-28 mm wide angle zoom set at 18 mm.
Most of the lightning was of the cloud-to-cloud variety, with a few distant cloud-to-ground strikes. The storm also moved northward along the mountains 25 miles to my west. Not all that far north of my town of Redmond, Oregon, the storm turned and headed northeast, giving Madras, Oregon, a night to remember. But from my vantage point, all I saw was a spectacular light show.
This first set of images shows something I see even less often than thunderstorms in my area...Mammatus clouds. Mammatus clouds are associated with severe storms and are the bumpy looking clouds which hang down from other clouds. In the first image, the Mammatus clouds show up in the shadowed area along the upper third of the image.
In this second image, the Mammatus clouds are clearly seen highlighted by the lightning flash.
As I mentioned earlier, most of the lightning was cloud-to-cloud. I very much enjoyed the way the lightning flashes highlighted the various clouds formations visible during the storm. But it was the crawlers of cloud-to-cloud lightning which I really enjoyed. Below are two of the better crawler images.
As nice as these images are (at least to me), they don't come close to my favorite lightning image I shot here years ago. It was one of three lightning strikes during a short-lived storm, but it was a good one. You can see the image here.