I’ve been sitting on these two photos for days; sulking in my own prison, shackled by the nonsense sentencing of my own perfectionist imposition. In some kind of martyred protest for the way events unfolded this past Tuesday, June 23rd. In other words acting like a petulant child.
I’ll spare the minutia but Tuesday started off all sorts of wrong thanks to an internet connectivity outage that interrupted much of coastal New Jersey for the better part of a day. A nightmare for Facebookers everywhere. This laid waste to my plans and sent me into the office on a day I was prepared to work from home. Just as importantly on a day I was prepared to shoot. Was prepared being the operative words here. You see, the best thunderstorm threat of 2015 thus far was becoming quite likely 24 hours out, and that the weather event would coincide with the golden and twilight hours. All the ingredients, man.
Connectivity issues be damned I put on my big boy pants, packed my things, and went to work. Accepting fate through self-deprecating laughter it was at this time I struck storm chasing from the day’s to-do’s and instead shifted focus to my deliverables. Yadda, yadda, yadda a day’s work and hit fast forward to leaving the office: the line of storms was about 30 miles to my south and west, moving due east at roughly 45 MPH. Could it be true? A chance for a well-timed rendezvous? Based on RadarScope positioning, I estimated the clock would afford enough time to get to my house to grab my gear. Everything looked great until I hit the light at County Road 539 and NJ-70 (~23minutes from my house); the already impressive line was expanding from the middle out into a bonafide bow segment driving across Salem, Gloucester, Burlington, and into Ocean and Atlantic Counties at an accelerated rate. By the time I made it to NJ-72 and turned eastward, the veil of black dominating my rearview said it all: getting to Dock Road for photos in time for the storm was simply out of the question. At this point it was simply get home, Greg.
Insert a rain, wind, and light show and you have what was a 15 minute raucous ride out at my house. Immediately afterwards text from friends and look to the west let me in on a little secret: the sun was going to get under these impressive cloud formations and roving lightning strikes just in time for sunset. Everything was in play—lightning, rainbows, a palette of intense color, dogs and cats living together? Without a second thought I loaded the car and made for Dock Road.
Posted up at my usual spot the scene was something. Storm clouds rolling, strong wind shipping, thunder clapping mere seconds after spokes of lightning splayed across the sky, pouring rain, and one rapidly developing sunset. Car bound thanks to rain and lightning I was missing out. If I could have kept my lenses dry I would have said to hell with the lightning and risked it, but the rain was too strong to get more than one clear shot off at any one time. At this point I was lamenting (re: complaining) to Twitter that I was 5 miles too far to the south. A few minutes into my pity party the rapidly intensifying light at my back (to the west) mixed with falling rain put me on instant rainbow alert. Seconds later there it was: bold and beautiful straddling Dock Road in full double rainbow regalia. Thunder was booming, lightning was cracking, the sun was shining, and this rainbow was saying hey, what’s up armchair photographer man? It was glorious.
It was then my mind downshifted into the hell with everything mode. I grabbed my tripod and set it up in the middle of a kaleidoscopic Dock Road. I fixed my camera, pressed the shutter, and proceeded to make a huge mistake. After the first shutter press I realized I didn’t have my two second timer enabled—I always use this to prevent any camera shake as the shutter is depressed and the mirror flips. Except this time it screwed me. Royally. I quickly enabled the timer, pressed said shutter, and immediately witnessed one very bad ass lightning strike sprawl throughout the sky, originating from dead smack in the middle of the rainbow. As the two second wait for eternity was up, the lightning was gone and the picture was taken. With nothing but the rainbow you see above. I blew my chance. I made a mistake and it was all www.nooooooooooooooo.com from there. Three and a half years into photography and I fold like a tent in the midst the best lighting/environment/sky conditions I’ve yet to encounter. Maybe next time I won’t choke so hard. Whenever that is.