Lightning Over Lake Michigan

Lightning over Lake Michigan.

Photography workshop, lightning over Lake Michigan.

At my photography workshop in Northern Michigan we went on a field trip to Lake Michigan. Our goal was to shoot the Milky Way and Northern Lights over the lake.

Northern Lights over Lake Michigan.

Northern Lights over Lake Michigan from a prior workshop.

The weather was not cooperating. After the sun set the clouds rolled in and did not leave. In my mind I was replaying the words from the photographer Minor White which I had shared earlier in the workshop: “When I go out to shoot I don’t ask, ‘What will I take today?’ But rather, ‘What will I be given today?’ ”

All of us were asking the same question, “What will we be given?” The answer appeared far across the lake. Lightning. A smart phone app said it was 15 miles away. Throughout the evening the lightning got closer and closer.

All set up and ready to go.

Getting set up and ready to go.

At first no one was having much luck catching the elusive bursts, fingers on shutters just aren’t fast enough. I knew time would take care of that. As the clouds got darker and shutter speeds got longer, catching the lightning would be simple. When shutter speeds hit 10 seconds that is only six photos per minute. At 20 second shutter speeds that is only 3 photos per minute. You just keep taking one picture right after another and sooner or later lightning will happen while your shutter is open. Someone would yell “I got one” and others would hurry over to look at the image.

We all had a great time. As the conditions changed I yelled out instructions while taking pictures of them at work. It was dark enough when I took the photo at the beginning of this article that the shutter speed was 30 seconds. That is why everyone is blurred.

It was dead calm where we were at while the storm raged out on the lake. Then the wind kicked up, the temperature dropped dramatically, cold rain hit us in the face, and we packed up and headed for our cars.