I set off on a recent trip to Wyoming with expectations of clear skies and boring sunsets. Most of the weather forecasts I found before the trip called for sunny days and cloudless nights, so catching storm clouds was not on my photographic to-do list.
Despite the forecasts I saw, conditions in Wyoming were much different than I expected, bringing dense smoke from nearby wildfires in the mornings which hung in front of the Teton Range for many of the daytime hours during my visit. That haze of smoke kept my camera in my bag for much of my first two days in Wyoming. It wasn't until the end of my third day that I looked at the clock, then outside at the skies, and realized that I should probably grab my camera and run if I wanted to see a good sunset.
After getting within view of the impressive Teton Range just in time for a sunset so elaborate I couldn't decide where to point my camera (those photos coming soon), I was ready to pack up and go get some dinner. Just as I had made that decision in my head, however, I noticed flashes of lightning peeking over the far side of the mountains. I had never gotten a chance to photograph lightning in the past, so, just in case I was about to miss a great show, I pointed my lens towards the flashes of light and waited.
Hoping for something good, I set my Nikon D750 to capture continuous 20-second exposures and sat back and watched as the storm rolled over Teton Village and the Jackson Hole Airport. I have always loved thunderstorms, but have rarely gotten to enjoy a wide open view of them like the landscape in Wyoming offered. This storm brought visible sheets of rain and frequent flashes of lightning, but it wasn't until I had fired off about 45 shots that a bright, well-defined bolt of lightning broke through the clouds. As soon as the bolt spread across the sky, I had a feeling I got the shot I was hoping for, and also had a feeling that if I stayed outside any longer I would be greatly increasing my chances of accidentally high-fiving a lightning bolt. I quickly checked the back of my camera, confirmed that I got the shot, and ran back to the car where my friend was patiently reading his book.
This shot was taken on a Nikon D750 and a Nikkor 24-120 f/4 lens. The photo is made from a single exposure taken at 58mm, f/5.6, and ISO 400 for 20 seconds. Post-processing was pretty simple, and consisted simply of tweaking the contrast a bit and brightening the mountains in Adobe Lightroom, which were a bit dark in the original shot.
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