I’m stealing lines from songs again – this time Sonny Landreth’s “Bad Weather” – but it’s fitting for this set of photos, which was indeed shot during what most people would call bad weather (but which photographers call opportunity).
On this particular day, mid-September, a series of storms were moving down from the northwest through New York and across Northeastern Pennsylvania, large cloud fronts speckled with openings and troughs where the sunlight poured through. The sort of weather where you know that something will happen at sunset, but you’re not sure what – it could be extraordinary or it could fizzle, and if you’re really unlucky it could even storm on you.
So being the dedicated sort, I threw the kayak on the car and drove up to Prompton State Park. A few minutes with the animated weather map made it a likely spot to capture some good cloud lighting mixes and, at worst, I’d get a little wet. (Okay, so at worst I could get struck by lightning, out there on the water with a long metal paddle in my hands.)
To borrow another line, “fate protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise.” There wasn’t any lightning, although the wind tried to blow me all across the lake and since I did a damned stupid thing and rode it down-lake I had to paddle right into it the whole way back.
But as you can see from the photos, it was worth it. And to be honest, it was really a lot of fun. One of the best things about being a photographer is having an excuse to go out and strange times and do things that regular people think strange. Sunrise, middle of the night, during storms – all those times when the conditions and the light are unique and the photos are almost begging to be made.
It felt good to shoot something different and come home with photos filled with cool blue tones and powerful cloud formations. It’s good to shake things up sometimes and do something unexpected, or at least to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. As I’ve said before, it’s hard to storm-chase in NEPA, but this was a good way of making it work, at least on a small scale.