The Split Second when the Lightning Meets the Land:
Daredevil Photographer Risks his LifeBy NADIA GILANI
Fearlessly placing himself directly in the path of deadly lightning strikes, a photographer captures images that highlight the terrific violence of nature.
Obsessed since childhood with the massive thunderstorms of South Africa's high-veld plains, Mitchell Krog, 39, has been taking pictures of lightning for 16 years.
Giving his photographs dramatic names such as 'Fire and Ice' and 'Killer Storm', Mr Krog who lives in the Magaliesburg region of South Africa has captured some of the most impressive lightning strikes committed to camera.
Holding his image of three simultaneous strikes just outside Pretoria called 'Monumental Chaos' as his photographic masterpiece, he has a devil-may-care attitude towards his dangerous photography.
Monumental Chaos: The moment when three massive lightning strikes hit the earth within 15 seconds at Voortrekker Monument just outside Pretoria. Mitchell Krog says it is his 'masterpiece'
He said: 'I don't fear lightning so whenever possible I will happily place myself directly in the path of an approaching storm and I've dodged some close strikes'.
'Since I was a young child I have had a fascination with electrical thunderstorms. I grew up on the high-veld of South Africa where our summers are filled with thunderstorms.
'I'm a bit of a daydreamer and easily mesmerised so I would often spend hours watching storms brew and would only run inside once the lightning or rain let me.
'With each storm I photographed I felt myself wanting more and I kept finding new ways of pushing the envelope and improving on what I had done before.hants and lions around the world
It was in early days of the Southern Hemisphere summer that he snapped his stunning work, 'Monumental Chaos'.
'I was on my way home from Pretoria when I saw a massive storm front brewing to the east', he says, 'I quickly made my way to the Voortrekker Monument just outside Pretoria as I just had a feeling I would have a chance of being directly in the storm's path.
'Often the problem with lightning photography is that it starts raining before the storm is close enough to capture, and before I knew it the rain started pelting down so much so, that the monument completely disappeared from view and this forced me to quickly seek shelter in my vehicle.
'The rain started slowing down after a few minutes and I knew I had to dash back out of the vehicle as I knew it was by no means over.
'Then came the first of some big very and very close lightning strikes and in between wiping my lens I was constantly adjusting settings to cater for what may or may not come next.
A gigantic storm cell sends out streams of lightening into the air north of Johannesburg in this image titled 'Killer Storm'
Johannesburg city is engulfed in lightning strikes in 'Johannesburg Electrified'
'While I do own a lightning trigger, I seldom use it as I prefer full manual control over my exposures using only a cable release and this day was no different.
'Then came the moment of what I termed 'Monumental Chaos,' when three massive lightning strikes came tumbling down to earth within 15 seconds.
'I initially thought the closest strike was just too close and that it would have blown my exposure but when I brought it up on the LCD screen I must have been grinning from ear to ear.
'In nearly six years of storm photography this single image portrays, more than any other image I've taken - the sheer chaos and power of a lightning storm.'
Going professional two years ago, Mr Krog has captured the effects lightning has on the surrounding environment on the dry plains of South Africa.
He added: 'With my image 'Fire and Ice' I was inside cooking dinner for my wife when I heard what I thought was thunder.
'I turned the heat down on the stove and rushed outside to see if it was true or if I was merely imagining things. What I saw took my breath away and I dashed inside to grab my camera.
'Some lightning strikes had started a grass fire which was causing the whole sky to glow a beautiful red-orange colour and in amongst this all lightning strikes were dropping from the sky creating the most incredible contrasting colours. This remains to be one of my most memorable images.'
Lightning strikes drop from the sky (left) in 'Fire and Ice', while a grass fire caused by a previous strike lights the sky a beautiful red-orange colour (right) in Magaliesburg, South Africa
High point: Working during a storm at sunset is what inspires Mr Krog most, as in this photograph - 'Stormy Sunset' where a lightning bolt strikes during a storm at sunset in Magaliesburg, South Africa
Observing storms from start to finish, Mitchell is all too aware of the power of storms.
'I spent about an hour photographing one storm but eventually only ever settled on this one image to publish', he said.
'The next day I read on various news web sites how some violent storms had hit some parts of Johannesburg even causing a few deaths. The headlines were 'Killer Storm' and I went with that as the title of the image.'
However for Mitchell, the high point of his photography is working during a storm at sunset.
'My ultimate when it comes to storm photography is capturing a storm at sunset. This requires being in the right place at the right time, a little co-operation from the elements and a certain amount of luck.
'I've captured a number of storms at sunset but they don't always work out the way I wanted them to but occasionally the pieces all fall into place as it does with 'Stormy Sunset.'
This image also titled 'Stormy Sunset' captures a lightening bolt as it strikes during a storm at sunset in Magaliesburg, South Africa
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The Split Second when Lightening Meets the Land
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