The heavy snow storm, series of tornadoes and violent thunderstorms have been causing damages, injuries and even deaths across several states in America. According to the National Weather Service, snow storm is expected to hit the Southeast and Midwest this week. In Alabama and Mississippi, around 15 tornadoes were formed leaving nearly 70 people injured. In February 8 and 9, a powerful winter storm Nemo hit the Northern US and believed to have killed at least 18 people. In Connecticut snowfall measuring 1 to 3 feet high blocked drive ways, buried cars and collapsed roofs of houses.
In New York, hundreds of cars were scattered and stranded along the Long Island Expressway.
The most damaging winter storm that hit the United States was the Great Blizzard of 1888.  The snowfall was about 40-50 inches which buried houses, vehicles and trains in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I will get around to making this better later tonight, but for now, enjoy this space filler. As it barreled down on Wichita, it was unclear whether or not there was still a tornado on the ground. Listening to KFDI while taking this picture, Ross Jansen, KWCH meteorologist, put the rotation as entering Mid-Continent Airport at the moment I took this photo.
I never saw an actual touchdown and if there was in the 10 minutes before this picture was taken where it was clear, and if there was it was completely rain wrapped. Symmetry, the rule of thirds, depth of field, simplicity, you name it, it can be applied to anything and everything. There looks to maybe be something coming out of the cloud, but I believe this to be just rain. The trick is to find what is worth applying it to.I got my camera in May of 2011 and with no prior knowledge of photography and set off on an amazing adventure of learning. Looking at the other pictures I have of the same cloud at roughly the same time, and playing with the contrast and brightness of the picture, there looks to be a bit of a funnel, but it is way to grainy to make a decision.As for the quality of the picture, I know it isn't the greatest, I would cringe if there was for aesthetic purposes, but it was the best look I got at the storm before I decided to head for shelter. It took me a year of playing around with it before I even knew how to use the shutter speed. I couldn't fit anymore of the wall cloud into the picture while still showing the main part of it that contrasted against the bright sky behind it.


After a while, and after many good and bad ideas, I came up with one that would change my life.
I had no tripod (before I got one I had stabilized my camera by setting it in convenient positions, and supporting it in the right direction with anything from rocks to using my shoe to hold it) and I tried to stabilize the camera on the ground to take pictures of a storm that was miles away. I kept trying though, soon I learned I could use an old video camera tripod to increase the quality and ease of taking photos immensely. By this time I had also gotten the controls of my camera down and could use that thing like a samurai could use his sword.The first real night I remember capturing a good lightning bolt, I was elated.
The adrenaline rush of staring out into this giant sky looking at a giant cloud of, "Could kill you at any damn time." I was hooked instantly.
I then dedicated myself to nearly every storm that passed over my house, just so maybe I could get that one lucky shot of a beautiful cloud to ground strike. I stood out in the cloud to cloud lightning storms, the windiest storms, the rainiest storms, with my $600 camera none-the-less. Sometimes better than my last best, most of the time not.Before I knew it, storm season was over.
I have been working a job since January and had missed one or two storms early on because of it. I finally got out in a storm 4am March 29th (dedication, I told you) this year and all was going well. Set up the tripod, wrapped a few rubber band around my camera attaching it firmly to the tripod and started shooting as a monster storm barreled down for Wichita.
I wasn't scared at all honestly, nervousness came and went within the first few times of being out there. I was cautious, and I am cautious all the time, cautious about getting too much rain on my camera,  cautious not to stray to close to the opening, but never truly scared or nervous. Anyways, the storm is passing, I find the sweet spot where most of the lightning seems to be striking repeatedly, point my camera in that direction and start shooting. The way I shoot is to hold down the shutter continuously with about a 6" shutter speed, if a bolt strikes while the shutter is open, it will be caught.
So I have to hold very very still, concentrate on not moving the camera at all as I am insanely critical of my shake in my finished product. Concentrate on not moving at all while holding down a button while in 50mph winds, rain, and a crazy lightning storm.


I saw the bolt as it dropped me to my knees, incinerated grass flew from the point of impact, me screaming the instant it happened. It was now dangling from the tripod holding on by a half ripped rubber band as I was on the ground, the product of lighting striking with 50 ft from my position.
Two seconds had passed and I had barely even registered what just happened, my first thought was, "I'm screaming." It was all I could think, obscenities were the only thing that could be said. Five seconds had passed and I was back, I realized my camera was probably on the ground and started looking for it. When I found it on the tripod, I snatched both up and got up underneath the bridge (pictured above) to where I could see no lightning. I was now stranded, with no phone or anyway to contact anybody, until the storm had passed. I had to sit and wait in the storm after the scariest experience of my entire life, which was this storm. 30 minutes had passed and I was still scared to come out, it was still very active outside. I finally sucked it up, as I wanted to be home more than I wanted to stay under the bridge even if it meant risking my safety for a brief moment. I sprinted the quarter mile through the open big ditch to my car.I made it, but I had been changed forever.
I was restocking something and light from the sun reflected off of a car on the wall in front of me for just a second, a mere flash, and it made me jump. For the next two weeks, any moment my brain wasn't occupied, it was seeing that bolt strike in front and to the left of me.It was the hardest thing to accept, that what I love to do the most could actually kill me and has tried to do so. I will continue to photograph lightning, every single time a storm has passed since then, I have wanted to go out and take pictures.That is my story and honestly, if only 5 people read this to entirety then it was worth writing.



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