Friday, August 9, 2013

The Silver Lining and the Fish that got Away

It was Fourth of July, and the fireworks display was going to be cancelled. Not on account of rain, but rather lightning.  The sky was alight with a giant electrical storm, and threatening our local display.  A couple of times a year the ferocity of the monsoon season roars in and reminds us that the natural display of lighting upstages the meager human attempt of fireworks.  This evening was an unusual evening for lighting. It was extremely active, and better yet started a bit early.  There was still light in the sky from sunset and the clouds were not so low that covered the mountain. The lightning was setting itself up so that when a strike hit it would illuminate, or back light the San Francisco Peaks. I was on my way home from a 4th barbecue at my parents house, and I could tell it would be a spectacular display.  The university a block from my house had just recently completed a high rise parking garage.  I had visualized this evening, being able to catch lightening from the 5th story deck of the 6 story garage.  I would be high enough to get a nice view of town, but still under cover from the rain and exposure to a strike.

I got up in position and set my exposure to ten seconds then let the shutter rip until my card filled up.  I got about three good shots with the mountain in silhouette and lightning streaking across the sky.  An officer from the university police department was curious to what I was doing, and I showed her the image I captured.  I was so excited I ran home and showed my girlfriend the shot. She was impressed.  I then did the dumbest rookie maneuver, resulting in erasing the entire memory card.  I had the card in a reader in my Mac, while it was asleep.  In my rush to get to the location, I pulled the card out of the reader without waking up the computer and properly ejecting it. That probably wouldn't have resulted in any damage, except that I used the camera to erase the card before I used it. That probably wouldn't have resulted in any damage had I not then inserted the card back into the computer, then woke it up.  That hosed it. Had I awoken the computer before reinserting the card, it would have given me a warning that it wasn't properly ejected, but not erased the card.  I then attempted to do a disk repair in the disk utility, but that probably made matters worse by resetting the directory.  I tried to use recovery software downloaded from the net, but only one image could be recovered, and that was a dark frame. You might think there will be plenty of lightning storms over the season, and yes there are. But that evening was really extra ordinary, an evening that may come along once a year.  A few weeks later I did go out in another storm and get these images here.  The storm was going nuts around Mars Hill, and even struck the hill.  I did get some pretty cool images, but if you would have seen the one I got with the mountain and lightning you would agree. It was the fish that got away. 

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