A former professor of mine once said that two things contributed to the decline of neighborhoods. TV and Air Conditioning. Before TV and air conditioning, people would gather on the porch on hot summer evenings. They would watch neighbors walk by,maybe engage them in conversation and, knowing their neighbors,might even recognize something off. Those odd screams in the distance, that strange man prowling around looking out of place.
Then along came the TV. Unlike the radio, which was portable enough to be carried around, TV was heavy and restricted to one room (if you were lucky). But it was still too hot to sit around, and face it, three fuzzy channels (if you lucky) weren’t good enough to glue you to the set in your 120 degree house.
So, people had something to do, but still sat on the porch because it was more enjoyable. Along came residential air conditioning. Now suddenly it WAS cooler and more comfortable inside, AND people had something to do. We went behind closed doors and shut out our neighbors, and thus began the decline of modern society.
So, when you can find something better to do on a hot summer evening than sit inside and stare at the TV, or even play on the internet, its rare and should be taken advantage of. Which is why I made my way to the front porch during a summer thunderstorm. First I had to duck under the giant garden spider’s web. He has taken advantage of the fact no one comes to our front door, and strung a web across the top of the door, to feast on the porchlight bugs. I leave him alone. The cool night air is relaxing, and a breeze blows tiny misty raindrops across my skin. Sitting on the bristly doormat I can hear trees rustling in the wind, dogs barking far off, and traffic coming. Every so often a car goes by, and through the headlights and rain I can see a wind tunnel effect as the rain slices over the top of the car and tumbles through the turbulent air behind it. Every now and then a brilliant flash illuminates the sky, and if I’m lucky, its right in front of me and I can capture the awesome power of nature. And that beats reality TV, any day of the week.
An early attempt. Every storm is different, and it takes a while to get dialed in. Add to it the fact I’m shooting through trees. It gets tough.
When you have the camera open enough to catch the little wispy lightning bolts, a very bright one will completely wash out the frame. That’s what happened this time. Glorious and bright, it left afterimages on my eyes like a flashbulb. Perfectly lined up, Right down the middle. Just too bright. And this is after playing with some settings afterwards. It was originally two trees on a white background. Not too long after this I could hear a lot of fire trucks.
Towards the end I got this one. I was finally happy with settings that captured good ones, while missing some wispy barely-visible stuff. Unfortunately the trees and porch roof got in the way. As it was still raining, I couldn’t step out into the yard, but the lightning was moving more and ore straight overhead.
The last one of the evening. After this one, visible stuff died out, and pretty soon afterward, the lightning disappeared all together. If these two trees were gone it would have been spectacular… but I like trees. Unfortunately the pictures lose a lot in resizing and conversion for the blog. There’s a lot more detail in the full size ones. But, here they are. One great reason to get back on the porch on a hot summer evening.