Penticton News

Capturing lightning is tricky, but last night was as easy as it gets: Okanagan photographer

A strike of lightning was captured over Okanagan Lake from Centre Beach in Naramata.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Erin Tilley Photography

Erin Tilley is a photographer who watched last night's thunderstorm intensify as she was driving from Penticton to Naramata – and she realized a phenomenal opportunity was presenting itself.

“It kept getting worse and worse but better and better,” Tilley said.

Once back in Naramata she went to Centre Beach with her kids.

Tilley placed her camera on a tripod, set up interval shooting, and then snapped 362 shots. She set a 10-second exposure, and spent about an hour at the beach.

All of best shots can be seen on her Facebook page Erin Tilley Photography

The toughest part about getting a quality lightning photo is the unpredictable timing, she said. That’s why long exposures (like a 10 second shutter speed), and interval shooting greatly increase the chances of capturing a strike.

But during last night's show – with such a high frequency of activity – that wasn’t the case.

“Last night's storm was probably the best opportunity to capture a lightning bolt because most of our storms do not have such a consistency,” she said.

READ MORE: Summerland urging residents to ration drinking water after storm

And lightning happens in tandem with storms, so there are often strong winds present for a photoshoot. But luckily for Tilley, Centre Beach was providing shelter from last night’s wind.

“And it wasn’t crazy windy anyway.”

Furthermore, heavy rain is another common challenge that hinders thunderstorm photography, but Tilley said it was only sprinkling in Naramata.

It was an atypical thunderstorm for the region. For hours, constant flashes and strikes were appearing to the east, south and west of the Okanagan Valley, though they seemed to mostly be contained to the sky.

While there were a few periods of downpour in the Okanagan, it was a very light amount of precipitation compared to the level of thunderstorm activity.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Erin Tilley Photography

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