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“Pocket lightning” is a term I made up to describe the little flashes of lightning I saw on a recent July evening, each peeping briefly through its own small opening in a dark, dense, cloud cover exotically colored rust and midnight blue.

I had the devil’s own time getting these four shots. The classic method of shooting lightning is to open the shutter and leave it open until a bolt lights up the sky. The contrast between the intervals of darkness and the moments of brightness are so great that only the latter records on film or sensor.

This sky, however, was relatively bright and the flashes correspondingly faint, so the tried-and-true method didn’t work. Leaving the shutter open gave me only an overexposed, gray sky.

This riveting spectacle could end abruptly, I knew, so I fell back on an old trick. I just opened the shutter, repeatedly, hoping for a chance sync with the lightning. Each time, the shutter remained open for about one second, giving me a properly exposed sky. I missed many good shots with this crude method, but at least I got a few.

The date was July 24, 2012, a little after 9:00 in the evening.

See related post: Lightning Storm.

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