Friday 27th July was hyped as being the day we would see the longest blood moon of the century, or something like that anyway. Photographing the moon isn’t really something I do a lot of, I don’t have a long enough lens to create those stunning images of giant moons against a compressed background, but after reading media reports about it all week and after swatting up on how to take photographs of the moon with the kit that I do have, I checked where and when I might best see it rising on the north Yorkshire Coast. Robin Hoods Bay seemed like a good bet. I had in mind an image to perhaps complement the popular Sunrise shot I made from there a couple of years ago.
However as Friday approached it became apparent that there was going to be a problem. The country has been in the grip of the strongest heatwave since 1976 with temperatures soaring into the 30’s. This had to break at some point and naturally enough this happened to be on the Friday – Thunderstorms and Lightning, very, very, frightening.
Suddenly the Blood Moon didn’t look so promising any more.
I didn’t let that put me off though. I’ve never photographed in a thunderstorm before either, so every cloud does indeed have a silver lining!
I set off along the A171 Moors road through torrential rain, doubting my sanity and almost turning back at Birk Brow, but optimism got the better of common sense and I pressed on, with only radio commentary from the soon to be abandoned Boro v Sunderland friendly for company.
The bottom Car Park was full so I parked at the top and no sooner was I out of the car than I saw my first flash of lightning. And with it more rain. I could only pull up my hood and head down the beach the try and find somewhere relatively sheltered to take the shot. The bay was bouncing with Friday night revellers, the air thick with the smell of food cooking and the sound of music drifting from the Bay Hotel. I quickly discovered that shooting from the sand was out of the question – I had planned on shooting back toward the Hotel in the hope of capturing lightning flashes overhead but it was too exposed. Instead I spotted a telescope viewing point sheltered a little bit by the cliffs, so headed up there to set up. By then I was already soaking.
Fortunately I had remembered to pack a plastic bag so I was able to keep the camera relatively dry, I set up a hurried composition, switched to manual and set up my interval timer taking a photograph every 5 seconds, conscious of the words of Doc Emmet Brown from Back to the Future: “The only thing capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of energy is a bolt of lightning. Unfortunately you never know, when or where its going to strike.” True Dat, Doc.
I think i fired off around 500 exposures but only managed to capture the lightning in 3 of them. Still I’m happy just have finally checked a thunderstorm shot of my ‘to do’ list.