As an autistic photographer I became quite obsessive about photographing sunrises and sunsets and, on occasion I would leave a restaurant to capture the sky. Thankfully I have an understanding family! So one of the things I’ve tried to do lately is to not photograph things – to just watch it, with my eyes, not through the back of a viewfinder on a camera. So when we had big storms here last week that’s precisely what I did, I just sat on the deck and watched the storm unfold with a cold beer in my hand. I guess the attitude I’m trying to have lately could be summed up by the title of that famous song from the Disney film Frozen! Not that I consider myself a storm-chaser anyway. If a storm lands in my lap I will happily take photographs of it and I might drive 10km either way in the hope of catching a lightning bolt or two, but that’s about it. But yesterday I knocked off a little bit early and headed out to photograph some promising looking storm clouds that were brewing overhead and were said to be heading this way. Here’s the story of the afternoon.

I got to Black Head Reserve and set-up the GoPro for a timelapse in the expectation that, as per the radar, the storm would pass near enough overhead. The sky was getting angry, but the sun was still shining through in part.

 

The seabirds seemed to be enjoying flying in the strong winds.

 

By this point I was getting fairly pumped. As you can see Mammatus-like clouds were forming and I had the camera trained on the view to the south where I thought the lightning might strike.

 

Out to sea the storm was starting to cover the sun.

 

Here you can see the edge of the storm and it was round about this point that I realised I was too far north. I could see cloud lightning way off to the south, but no strikes at all. I checked the radar again and realised that the place to be was Jervis Bay. There was also a much bigger storm cell further south again in Ulladulla which looked like it was bringing a lot of electrical activity with it.

 

The sky was angry but I didn’t see a single bolt of lightning from Gerroa.

 

I really liked this shot though, with the rippled storm cloud on the northern edge of the storm and the sun-lit orangey skies to the east.

 

So, figuring that I’d missed the storm, I drove home. When I got back Catherine asked me why I’d come back when the lightning was going off so well and she pointed out the window to the south-west. Sure enough, some huge bolts of lightning touched down somewhere south of Nowra. I checked the radar again and there was a line of lightning contacts all along the Shoalhaven River. So I got back in the car and headed out to Shoalhaven Heads. Another photographer (hi Shane!) was down there capturing this scene. He’d chosen his location much more wisely than me and had caught some awesome bolts of lightning coming out of this storm cell. I fired up the intervalometer on my camera and left it doing its thing but in about 260 exposures I didn’t catch a single bolt of lightning. And that’s just the way it goes. However the cloud structures were awesome and I was pleased to photograph around the wharf as the storm cell tracked out to sea.

 

It looked like it was dumping a fair bit of rain over the bay, but the electrical activity had, by now, almost completely stopped and I knew that I wouldn’t be photographing any lightning in this particular storm. So, with it now being an hour before sunset, my thoughts turned to the orangey glow out to the west and I decided to drive just around the corner to Hay Avenue.

 

The sun was breaking dramatically through the clouds when I arrived.

 

I do like that almost metallic light you get after storm. I spied this peli out in the estuary and got low against the mangroves to frame him/her.

 

This was peak-colour – pelicans cruising across towards the oyster fetches.

 

Bit of drama.

 

Pelicans mate for life, apparently. However it is the female that decides where they set up home.

 

Loved the rays of light in this one from the setting sun.

 

Used the mangroves to book-end this shot.

 

More dramatic sun-rays.

 

Pelicans decided I wasn’t an interesting fisherman with some goodies to share and chuffed off to roost on the sandbank.

 

This noisy lot were taking their sweet time to settle down for the night. Long exposure worked well here I thought.

 

I was half expecting Thor to drop in at this moment. Or maybe Thanos.

 

Last shot of the night – sun well and truly set – little bit of lingering colour.