Thursday, August 18, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Last Friday night I went to downtown Little Rock and met up with my friend John. The plan was to try to take pictures of the International Space Station as it scooted along, high above the sky over the downtown skyline. We decided that the best place to set up would be along Riverfront Park in North Little Rock, so we drove over and parked by the I-30 bridge.

The Space Station plans were ruined thanks to some clouds moving in, which blocked the view. But luckily, they did look pretty cool right after dusk. This is the view of the Little Rock skyline, framed under the I-30 bridge.

There were a few flashes of light in the clouds off in the distance, which meant that a storm was on its way. A quick check of the radar showed that a pretty massive storm was making its way towards the city. So the plans then quickly changed into trying to get some pictures of lightning. Since the storm was coming in from the west, we debated a few possible shooting locations.

We ended up staying downtown, and going to a bridge that runs above I-630. This is an ideal shooting location - since you get some decent views of the skyline and of the state capitol. So we set up the cameras and tripods, and waited for the storm to move closer.

It would end up being a pretty big storm. The dark clouds making their way over the horizon were lit up like fireworks by the lightning. As the storm got closer, we were greeted by heavy winds. I read later on that there were wind gusts of 60 miles per hour reported during this storm. They were definitely strong. As the winds rushed down the freeway, pieces of random trash and debris floated along the road. A piece of cardboard drifted across the freeway as if it had a mind of its own.

It wasn't the best conditions for taking pictures. I took a lot of pictures while up on that bridge, but most of them turned out blurry because of camera shake from the wind. But as the storm got closer, so did the lightning. I got one shot with some lightning in it, which somehow ended up being in focus. This is two bolts of lightning, with the I-630 and the dome of the Arkansas State Capitol:

And then the rain hit, which meant it was time to head back to the car. By the time I reached the safety of my Pontiac, the rain was coming down in buckets. In the dry safety of the car, we drove through the soaked streets of downtown in the midst of the heavy downpour. We drove back over and went under the I-30 bridge again. I hoped it would be a good and dry spot where I could maybe just perhaps get some pictures of lightning over the skyline. But the rain was coming down too hard, and the wind too strong, that it never really worked out.

We then drove back over the river and ended up in the parking deck by the River Market. The worst of the storm had passed, but there were still plenty of lightning up in the sky. We both set up the cameras and tried to get a few more pictures. None of my mine turned out, no surprise there. But I ended up getting at least another shot of downtown:

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