It's All About the Adventure
I went back and forth whether or not to go out into the stormy night to capture what I was hoping to be an amazing photograph. None of my photography buddies wanted to join in and it seemed like a lot of work… but I summoned up my inner storm chaser and decided to try and photograph the immense storm cell that was rolling into the area.
As I neared downtown I noticed a glowing red light on my dashboard in the shape of a battery.
“This can’t be good...” I thought to myself.
But I was already where I was headed, and now was not the time to turn around. I pulled into a parking garage, with plans of parking at the top of the open-air ramp and catching the storm as it rolled in. When I got to the 6th level, police barricades were blocking me from going any further. I parked as close to the top as I could and I took the stairs the rest of the way.
There was an eerie feeling on the top of that parking structure. Littered with construction equipment - like a graveyard that was fully alive just hours ago. I found the best spot to view the south western sky from and got my tripod and camera set up.
Distant flashes lit up the sky with purple and navy. Miles of horizon was covered by a storm coming in; a storm that didn’t even hiccup over Lake Michigan after it ravaged Chicago. I was shooting my 8mm fisheye lens in order to capture as much of the sky as possible. Picture after picture, hoping to catch an actual lightning bolt streaking across the sky. I was taking awesome pictures but not what I had come for… the lightning was too deep into the storm cell.
“Are you from the newspaper” a voice called out next to me. Two kids, aged around 10 and 13 stood only feet away from me. Where did they come from? They were both shirtless and wearing black sweatpants, rolled up to their knees. No shoes but a skate board in each hand.
“No…” I replied, “Just a hobby and it looks like a good storm.”
“Cool.” The older one said.
They proceeded to tell me about their mission to get to the highest point possible and watch the storm. This mission landed them next to me. We watched the storm roll in together as I snapped away.
Soon the wind picked up and started spitting rain at us. A large gust blew dust and sand in our faces and immediately had me concerned for my equipment. The kids decided this was enough for them too and with a “Later dude!” they both ran off to find a new vantage point. I packed up my equipment as the rain started in on the city, not completely content with the outcome of the evening. "All in all, I gave it a shot and there will always be other opportunities." I thought.
As I start driving home in the torrential rain, I realized that my car had a serious issue, not just a case of “This flashing light on my dashboard doesn’t mean anything.” I quickly called my fiancee and let her know she'd need to pick me up somewhere… and I that I was going to see how far my Pathfinder could get me.
As my Pathfinder was dying in the middle of a 5-lane road, I noticed an auto repair shop ahead. At this point I’d already determined that my alternator was bad and any extra battery power I could get would help me get to the auto shop. I turned off my lights and with a surge of power my car reached a safe destination. I let my fiancee know where to pick me up and in the meantime I got my gear cleaned off and decided to start shooting again.
Who would have thought that stranded in a auto repair parking lot is where I would witness some of the best lightning I’ve ever seen? I managed to capture only a couple shots, and nothing of incredible quality seeing as my lens had water drops on it and I was shooting without a tripod; But a few images that will stand to tell my adventure of the night.
The incredible pictures will come with time, the adventures will live with me forever.
If you'd like to see more of Bobby's amazing photos go HERE.