This image has been the product of roughly two years of attempting to catch the perfect storm. Typically, I specialize in portraiture and nightlife photography, but this odd project popped up one day while I was feeling nostalgic.
Being from Indianapolis (USA), I grew up with many thunderstorms. In the spring, their occurrence is so commonplace that they are essentially a non-event. After being in Japan awhile though, I grew to miss their excitement and beauty. One day it dawned on me that I had never properly photographed one, and this sparked the project.
What furthered my interest in the project was how it seemed like a bridge between portraiture and landscape photography. I love to photograph peoples' expressions because they are ephemeral. A fleeting bit of anger, love, lust, or joy. To me, capturing bolts of light over the city seemed like the landscape equivalent - a brief moment of explosiveness in the otherwise dark nightscape.
My first attempts found me running out the door a bit too late with a bit too much gear not knowing exactly where I wanted to shoot. Eventually, I found my location (a view looking west over the tracks between Nagoya and Kamejima Stations), composition, focal length, and all the other minor points. I now just had to wait for the lightning to show up in the right place, at the right time of day, when I happened to be near and available.
Fast forward a couple of years and countless attempts later to around 1:00am on the morning of June 2nd earlier this year. While sitting at home, I suddenly was jostled by huge crashes of thunder. I looked out my window and saw lightning that turned the night to day. Running around the house, I grabbed my camera, lens, remote trigger, weighted tripod, a jacket, and a towel. I now knew exactly where to go and what to do. Going through the practiced motions, it didn't take long to set everything up. I attempted to shield the lens from the heavy rain and wind, wiping it dry between every 25 second exposure. Although the lightning seemed promising at first, after an hour out in the storm I began to wonder if this would ultimately just be another close attempt with nothing to show for it. I debated going back inside and calling it, but having learned my lesson from prior attempts (I had called it early before only to see huge bolts after packing up), I stayed on a bit longer. Right about when the ritual frustration began to creep in once again, I pressed down the remote shutter once more and - BOOM - beautiful bolts shot down all across the horizon.
'Nishiku Lit' (under the name 'Lightning Over Nagoya') received critical acclaim at the 2017 CENTRAL Photo Exhibition where it was awarded as the Semi-Grand Prix winner.