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Friendship, flexibility fuel fever dream photography

Perseids Meteor shower was supposed to be the king of this summer’s atmospheric phenomena, lasting from the middle of July well into August. Tuesday, Aug. 13, the peak of the natural event, my friends and I decided to head down to The Big Oak Tree, in Huntsdale Mo. as a last hurrah to summer because school was starting the next day. Making up our minds to go only hours before we had to be there to catch the shower at its peak, nearly 80 predicted meteors an hour. 

We hastily set our alarms for 3 a.m. and fell into a short slumber.

I spent the night before the shoot researching meteor shower photography and collecting a list of tips and tricks on the topic. Waking to the blaring noise and not immediately hitting the snooze button which is off character for me, I packed up my gear and headed down to meet everyone. I stepped out of the car, waved to my friends who had just gotten out of their cars across the street and felt the first drops of rain on my fingertips. Within minutes it started pouring, and the five of us took shelter in the biggest of my friends’ cars. We were disappointed, but we still found it easy to laugh about our luck and the unpredictability of Missouri weather. Nobody wanted to go home after driving the half hour to get out there, so we settled in, hoping to wait the rain out.

“When I look back on the photo, it feels like a fever dream.”

Then, only a short ways away, the lightning storm began and the downpour eased. I grabbed my tripod, shutter cable release and a blanket and coaxed my friends out of the car. We headed out into the field as far as we could, walking out until our shoes and pants were covered in mud, and set up the equipment pointing toward the storm. I used an ISO set at 100 (allowing for a great quality low grain photo), an f stop of 2.8 (allowing for a short depth of field) and a 30 second shutter speed (captures all the pixels in an image for 30 seconds). 

For three hours we stood there, talking and laughing. All the while pressing the same button in 30 second intervals. When I look back on the photo, it feels like a fever dream. I don’t know what compelled us to stay there for hours even when shot after shot turned up with nothing. I’m not disappointed we missed the. It was cold, wet and not at all what we expected, but if everything went to plan there’d be no story. I made the best of our situation after seeing that complaining and giving up would do nothing for me. After all, its lighting that strikes, not thunder.

What is the most interesting nature photo you have ever taken? Let us know in the comments below.

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