Wednesday 2 January 2013

What's the Matter? Scared of a Little Lightning?

It was late afternoon when we set off back to Manji.  We had driven across to have lunch with my parents, my sister and her husband, their two children, and my brother-in-law’s parents.  They had all come down for the Christmas week.  It was a hot day, but fortunately as a beachside town, Busselton gets an early sea breeze.  After a leisurely and decidedly delicious lunch, accompanied by a glass of bubbles of course, our two young nephews opened their belated Christmas presents – remote controlled helicopter balls!  Then it was off to the beach for a swim.  The water was alluring with a bright mix of blue and turquoise and the bright afternoon sun made the surface sparkle intensely.  It was very refreshing as the mercury had just hit 38 degrees (just over 100 in the old scale).  Then it was a double serving of my mum's famous Christmas pudding before hitting the road.

As we approached the final turnoff to Manji a beautiful double rainbow appeared in the east, the direction we were about to turn.  As we drove along the beautiful Karri lined road, the double rainbow was ahead of us and the glorious rays of sun followed us from behind, sparkling in the high reaches of the Karri canopy.  The rain was nowhere to be seen!  

Double rainbow in the East.

Video courtesy of Princess Snapperhead

As we continued our journey eastwards, the rainbow suddenly vanished and the clouds were smouldering with a mysterious salmon colour directly ahead.  The golden sunset continued behind us whilst to the north east there was a sheet of grey clouds.  The feeling was extraordinarily eerie. 

Mysterious salmon-coloured clouds ahead.

Golden sunset behind us.


Suddenly, there was a strike of lightning in those gloomy grey clouds in the north east.  Perhaps the Mayans were a few days out.  Was this the end of the world? 

Standing on the veranda back in Manji the lightning intensified.  It was covering almost half the eastern side of the sky from north to south.  Although we could barely hear the thunder initially, it steadily intensified with each strike.  Keen to take my first opportunity to photograph a lightning storm, I seized my tripod, Canon 40D DSLR, and shutter release cable.  Daughter number three decided soon enough that she would be my trusty assistant.  Although I had not photographed lightning with my DSLR camera before I knew the basic principles.  The camera is mounted on the tripod so that long exposures can be obtained, and this requires the use of a shutter release cable for best results.  Most of these shots are 30 to 40 seconds of exposure.  Daughter number three was enthralled by the whole shoot that we did together.

As the storm got closer the wind started gathering force and each strike of lightning became more intense.  Eventually, the rain forced us back onto the balcony where we gazed intently at the awesome demonstration of nature’s power.  

And then it really pelted down!  The sound of the beating rain on the tin roof was like a thousand symphonies being played – all at the same time, quite discordant!
The lightning show lasted some three to four hours.  For how long the rain drenched the parched land we cannot be sure, for despite its discordance, its pulsing rhythm on the roof soon lulled us to sleep. 

Scared Potter?  A fear of thunder and lightning - that's called astraphobia, and is also known as astrapophobia, brontophobia, keraunophobia, or tonitrophobia.

Want to study thunder and lightning?  You would be a fulminologist!