Letting The Scene Happen – Looking West Of Lalibela At An Impending Thunderstorm

by John Downey

Capturing lightning is easy if you have patience and know how to focus your particular lens (every lens is different) to infinity when too little light sends the camera’s autofocus into a panic.  I took this image looking west-northwest of the Mountain View Hotel in Lalibela, Ethiopia.  The hotel itself is overpriced and the food and service lacking, but the view is fantastic at sunset (or during impending thunderstorms) and the beer is usually cold.  For this shot, the storm was advancing along the far ridgline from the right of the frame to the left.  A few cars had twisted up the road so I made a series of shots 25 seconds long and it was by chance that this small lightning bolt lined up almost with the peak of the foreground hill, where the vehicle tail lights are headed.  The rich, indigo hues of the sky go well with a dim green hills and neon-red lights.  The only drawback to long exposures is the inevitable accumulation of noise.  I shot at ISO 320 and think if I had upped that to ISO 1600, the shorter shutter speed may have resulted in less noise overall.

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