Sunday, August 3, 2008


Ask most Arizonans what the neatest weather phenomena in the area is and you will get the response 'Monsoons.'


It has been this way for my entire life. From the time I was a child the monsoon storms have been something that are both looked forward to, and dreaded. Dreaded because of the torrential downpours that can wipe away landscaping, houses, and small children (just have a look over at Catalyst's page for proof of that). I distinctly remember filling sandbags as a kid and piling them in from of the door, as well as taking a garden hoe to unblock the drainage culverts in front of our house, to prevent the overspill from running down the driveway and into the house.


They are looked forward to for many reasons. They bring water to us, which is something that we always find ourselves in need of here in the desert. They give us a respite from the heat for a few short weeks, taking temps from the 100s into the 80s. But most of all (at least in our family) they are looked forward to for their beauty. Many a time I can remember spending a summer evening on the porch just watching as lightning ripped through the sky above and around us. Thunder clapping moments later rattling the windows. It is truly something that is awe-inspiring.


So tonight as the monsoon storm rolled in DaNece recommended turning off the television, setting up the tripod, watching, and waiting. The premise is simple - leave the shutter on her fancy camera open until you see a strike, then close it. If it so happens that you have to stand on the porch in a lovely cool breeze, enjoying the occasional raindrop on your skin, then so be it. These are the sacrifices we make to get the shot.


Either we are terribly lucky (which is probably the case), or this whole lightning photography thing aint as hard as I thought it would be, because within about five minutes we got the following images:


And both taken from the comfort of the front porch! Calling ourselves lucky enough, we turned off the camera, and sat back to enjoy the remainder of the show. To be struck with awe at the power and beauty that the monsoon season brings to our desert home.


P.S. - TOTAL KUDOS to DaNece for going outside while it was still raining to get the tripod, and allowing me the use of her camera. She ROCKS!


P.S.S. - It also looks like Rich got a nice lightning photo today.


Catalyst said...

Hey, Tombo, thanks for the shout-out.

And may I say your lightning shots are much better than Rich's. So it goes.

Gadget said...

Didn't realize I was in a competition Catalyst!

Tomobo, good shots! Wish I had a porch, but had to leave Watson Lake Park quickly. Bummed, as I left with a downpour there were a few great ones. Ah well.

TomboCheck said...

Catalyst - You are too kind. :) I had the advantage of darkness (and a wide open shutter) on my side. All I had to do was wait for a strike. Rich had to anticipate the strike (or just shoot continuous shots and hope.

Now I know why most lightning pictures are taken at night! :)

Rich - EVERYTHING is a competition, didn't you know? Yeah the porch is a god-send, and it allowed us to keep the camera just inside the doorway when it started sprinkling more and more.

Chickenbells said...

Well...if everything is a competition, I'm loosing on the lightning picture front...oh well, I'm sure I make up for it somewhere else, eh? I love the pictures anyway's not easy to shoot lightning no matter where you happen to be when it's striking...if you're my cat, you're under the bed...then again, she didn't ask to use my camera.

TomboCheck said...

ChickenBells - You should have seen poor little Lola. She didn't know what to do with all the bright lights and big booms. She crawled under the futon and whimpered for a good 15 minutes straight. :)

Scrappy on the other hand just wanted to know why the hell the door was open.

Anonymous said...

Cool lightning shots!
Another couple of reasons to dislike the monsoon: (a) Dogs panic and in some case run away and get lost. (b) Loss of electrical power at homes and businesses, (c) Damage to electronics like computers due to voltage surges and drops, (d) Dust storms.

In 1996 or 1997, I lived in the Phoenix area and half my roof tore off and landed in the street. I was home and it was truely scary.

But all in all, I like the season. It seems less violent in Prescott than in the desert areas.

Tony Reynolds said...

Tom, as everyone has said "great shots". One thing Nancy and I were talking about during the show last night was the differnce in the thunder here. In LA, if we had lightning and thunder, it would be flash, bang and that would be it. Here there is a constant long, low "Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter" rumble. Quite wonderful...and romantic. We were also blessed with an hour's black-out which we found a good excuse to use...productively!
ps. See my mug in the paper today?

TomboCheck said...

Dagny - I can totally understand the pets thing. One of ours is a scaredy dog that was freaked out by the storm. The other loved every second of it. :)

Power outages aren't the worst thing in the world. A good time to sit with the family and have some time together by candle-light.

And the fried electornics do suck. I learned long ago to unplug anything when I see lightning on the horizon.

Dust storms - pretty rare up here in prescott thankfully! But in phoenix they can get pretty wild!

TomboCheck said...

Tony - yeah, the rumbling thunder is a trip. The thunder from that second photo went on for a solid 20 seconds from start to finish. If I'm being honest though, I've never experienced lightning/thunder anywhere but prescott, so I don't have much to compare to. :)

I didn't see you in the paper, but that is probably because I don't get the paper.... :P
Time to scan a copy and post it up!

Granny J said...

Cool shots, Tombo. The Dotter says that Alaska is like California -- very little in the way of donner und blitzen but plenty of grey, damp days.

TomboCheck said...

GJ - thanks. :)
That is the impression I got from Alaska, damp and grey most of the time. But i've only been a few times and always during summer.