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Weather Library > Lightning Chasing Humor

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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If you're a lightning photographer or aspiring to become one, you'd enjoy the discussions on Lightning Mailing List, an email group started by Harald Edens. Join it today!
It's been said that there are only few things that would make someone want to spend large quantities of time, money, miles and sleep to pursue. Life, liberty and happiness aside, there is, for some of us - well, the thunderstorm. While most people are heading for cover at the first rumble of thunder, there's a strange brand of people running outside with cameras. Who are we, and what in the heck do we do out there?

Storm chasing is more than a hobby- for most of us, it's a way of life. We're fascinated by the mechanics and beauty of restless weather, and are always on the lookout for something new in the sky to see, hear, or experience.

But our adventures also bring their share of humorous, and even downright rediculous situations. Here's a little insight as to what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a lightning chaser, from the storm fans of the Lightning Mailing List.


You aim your camera, and hope anxiously for a very close strike, even though you know it will scare the living daylights out of you if it happens. But you don't care because, hey, it'll make one awesome shot!

You're shooting lighting at 2.00am in your back yard and the neighbours come out to watch the storm, they turn on the floodlights surrounding their house and wash out your current exposure. Then just as your winding the film on, the mother of all strikes hits centre frame.... aaargh!
Steve
UK

You go out and spend a fortune on a DV cam and bulk buy film for the 35mm in april to get ready for a season...and the season never turns up : (
Steve
UK

The first indication another storm has formed behind you is the incredibly bright flash and deafening roar of VERY close thunder....MAN I HATE THAT!!
Mike P.
Tucson, az USA

You eat Ramen noodles for 1 month because you're broke, but spend $100 in the same month on gas, film and film developing.

You've ever called in sick at work (or skipped class) so you could sleep because you stayed out all night chasing storms.

You see a storm on radar that is a little far so you drive about 40 to 50 miles to find that one, but it died and there is one right on top of where you live.
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

You wake up to find a storm right on top of you, you take your air conditioned camera stuff that has been in the house out and set up - but you have to wait for it to de-frost, and you miss the good one...
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

There used to be a flash light in the camera bag . . .
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

How did I know I would need 2 more rolls of film.
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

"Ok, I have to get closer to the storm" so you drive just about 1 mile and the bottom drops out.
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

You drive to find that great spot- and you drive - and you drive- and you see all the shots you are missing and you finally find the spot, and the storm falls out.
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

There is some form of 4 legged thing moving closer to you and you don't know what it is.
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

"Is that a no trespassing sign there, I did not even see that", you kindly tell the police.
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

You've not had storms in a long time, and at night you look up in the sky and you think you see lightning- but no one else sees it. (bad withdrawal)
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

The weather calls for no storms for the next 2 days and you find yourself chasing one at 1:00 am that night.
Bill Coyle
Virginia Beach, VA

You have a t-shirt, coffee mug, credit card, screen saver, computer wallpaper, and business cards with lightning on them.

Despite the fact that you've not slept in 2 days due to chasing storms, you still wake up at 8:00am so you can get to the photo lab and get your shots developed....

Rain is soaking the inside of your brand-new truck because you're shooting out the window, and you don't care because you have a good chance of catching an awesome bolt. You spend the next week with garbage bags and towels on the seats and driving with all the windows open to dry it out.

You clean out your car and throw away 1,000 empty film canisters.

You put more miles on your vehicle in 3 months than the average person does in 1 year.

Your camera is stolen in December, and you go out buy a new one immediately because you don't want to take a chance at missing a rare January storm

Every photo lab employee in town knows you by your first name

You shoot 5 rolls of film during a storm, and think you may have got 1 shot. You put the good roll in the cup holder and the 4 bad ones on the passenger seat. Then you go around a curve too fast, and all 5 rolls fall to the floor. Now you don't know which one is good so you have them all developed, and then the shot you thought you got didn't turn out.

You constantly daydream about your dream shot(s) and how you'd react if you got it.

You've ever considered sleeping in your vehicle alongside the road because it's 3:00am and you're 100 miles from home.

You've ever tried to 'call your shot' like Babe Ruth, pointing at a tree and then aiming your camera at it.

For some reason you left your tripod at home and lost your cable release, so you balance your camera on a trash can/newspaper machine/car roof/windowsill and try to be still while you hold the shutter open.

You're out only looking at a distant storm with no lightning, and you're trying to decide whether ot not to chase, but you set up your camera anyway and pretend to make adjustments so it's obvious what you're doing so people won't get suspicious and bother you.

Even if you're a quiet, shy person, you celebrate like a college football player in the end zone every time you get a shot.

Every time a broken fluorescent light fixture flashes, you think it's lightning and stop what you're doing and start counting for the thunder. You then stare at the ceiling for 10 minutes to see if it was really the light fixture that did it.

There's a streetlight right in front of your house that blocks an otherwise great lightning view. You think up possible legal, non-destructive solutions like: 1.) petitioning the city to move the light or install a switch on the pole for you, 2.) rigging up a complex rope/bracket/flashlight/mirror system to trip the light's daylight sensor, or 3.) tying a big beach towel to a long rope and using it to 'lasso' the towel over the light.

You've ever unwittingly used the terms 'CG' or 'Anvil Crawler' in normal conversations with your non-weather-enthusiast friends and gotten strange looks.

Somebody (doctor, parent, spouse, teacher, etc) has accused you of having (or has diagnosed you with) ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). (lightning is the only thing that's short enough to hold your full attention span)

You're driving down the road during the day and slam on your brakes because you thought you saw a great place to shoot from and you want to go check it out.

Whenever you think about your house burning down or being burglarized, the only thing that you worry about losing is your lightning photo negatives/slides.

Ever notice that the more prepared you are, the harder you try, and the farther you drive, the less lightning you catch?

Every time it storms and you don't catch anything, everyone asks you if you got any photos. If you did catch something, no one asks.

A storm wakes you up at 4 am, you stay out all night- then suffer through work the next day and you vow that you'll go to bed early to make up for it...then you check radar, see more storms, and stay up all the next night........

You finally get a bolt on film, and you go crazy because there's no 1 hour lab open at 3:30 am......meaning you actually have to WAIT to see the photo.....

You run out of film and money, and all of the ATM's are out because of the very storm you are trying to shoot.......

You find a perfect photo spot during the day, and make a note of it.....then when a storm comes at night, you go there to set up only to find a streetlight right in the center of the view.....You're an honest, law abiding citizen, but if you only had a BB gun..........

The thumb knob on your cable release falls off, and finding it in that tall grass at night is impossible.....leaving the sharp rod exposed on the end of your release.....as a result every time you open the shutter it's like getting a blood test.....ouch....

You forget the can of OFF.....

The rain and wind blow in your face (and lens) no matter which way you point, like smoke on a barbecue grill.

25 Years of Storm Chasing
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