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July 10, 2012 at 8:14 PM

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Lightning strikes Seattle


HEATHER TRIMM PHOTOGRAPHY

Lightning strikes near the Magnolia neighborhood during Monday morning's rare Puget Sound thunder storm. The photo above was taken from Alki Anchor Park just before 2 a.m. The storms caused lightning strikes that burned two homes in Yakima County.

It was hot on Sunday night and I was sleeping lightly in the early hours of what was now technically Monday. "Crash, boom." What was that? Flash, flicker. Lightning, a thunderstorm? It must be a fluke. Then I hear it again and again.

I check the twitter-verse on my iPhone (#lightning #seattle) and see tweets about storms in Georgetown and West Seattle, all near my White Center home. Ok, let's go.

Suddenly, my wife and I become storm chasers. We guess about which direction to go and make a few rookie storm-chasing mistakes. Finally, we set our sights on Alki and keep driving until we see bolts. It's raining as I get out of the car and the adrenaline hits me. I know the general technique of lightning photography was to use a tripod and keep your shutter open for as long as possible, hoping to catch a bolt as you're making the exposure. But you don't get to practice lightning photography until you're faced with a storm, and in Seattle this was it.

I made this picture with a 25-second exposure at f13 at ISO 640 with a tripod on the pier at Alki Anchor Park in West Seattle at 1:47 a.m. My tripod head isn't very sturdy, so the Magnolia lights have some motion to them. As the shutter was open, I was chatting with a man with a bicycle. This was my second exposure on the pier, and my 23rd overall. The first 22 photos were me practicing, in the 23rd I think I got it right.

Heather Trimm is a Photo/Multimedia Specialist at The Seattle Times, and a Seattle Wedding Photojournalist at www.heathertrimmphotography.com.

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