Approaching Storm in the Palouse

Here it is in B&W:

I took this image in 2007. I’ve never been a storm chaser or had much luck catching lightning. I was lucky this time. I was on Steptoe Butte at the very top. This storm was approaching and I got crazy immersed in shooting the scenes and the lightning. As it was getting nearer–coming straight for me–I realized I was standing under half a dozen broadcast towers…can you say, lightning rod???

Shortly after I took this shot and realized the danger, I packed up, and drove down the butte. When I got to the bottom I was met with one of the most ferocious storms I’ve ever experienced. I pulled over to wait it out. Fortunately it was a quick moving one and I could continue on to my hotel. I also got some incredible sunset and post sunset shots (rainbows, incredible sky)…So it was a great experience.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any comments appreciated.

This is a reprocess with the latest raw conversion tools. I’m interested if you feel it’s realistic, any sense of drama?

I reprocessed this image today because I just scheduled two trips to the Palouse next year…June for the spring green and August for the summer harvest. Can’t wait.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Canon 1DS II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, 0.3 sec @ f/14, ISO 160, Polarizer, Tripod.

I’ve had a hard time processing this over the years. It never came out the way I remembered the scene. I revisited it today with Capture One and used a linear profile. That gave me the latitude to work some masks and gradients to get the effect I wanted. I also had to do a ton of spot healing–too many spots in that dusty environment.


I love the contours in the fields – their outlines, the plowing lines and the natural lay of the land. I like the fields in the B/W but somehow the lightning demands the color, to me. The bluish sky is so dramatic against the fields.

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I hope this is the way you remember it, since this is such a beautiful scene. I agree with Diane about the lightning demanding the color version. Well done!

Gorgeous, dramatic scene, David, and exciting story! I really like the color one the best!

I think the b&w is more dramatic, if that’s what you’re going for. The color version is lovely, too, with the blue sky and golden fields. If you wanted it to be really dramatic, a different b&w conversion (bringing down the yellows in the scene) might work to accentuate the lightning. I also see a squiggly little road right in the middle, directly below the lightning bolt, that could be used as a compositional element to mimic the lightning. Here’s what I’m thinking. It’s certainly not so representational, and doesn’t accentuate the countryside, so if that is important to you, this wouldn’t work.

Great images David, I like both the color and the B&W version. The B&W has more drama and impact, but I just love the cool tones in the sky of the color image. The lightning bolt and clouds look better in the color image, but the contrast in the land is more impactful in the B&W.

My alternate suggestion is kind of a hybrid of the two, a cool toned B&W. Just another thought…

@Bonnie_Lampley, wow, this is awesome. It’s so interesting how we see things differently. I never even noticed that squiggly road. :slight_smile: I like the crop and the darker treatment. Nice.

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Thanks for the suggestions @Ed_McGuirk, this looks quite nice in the cooler tone. I will try it out on the main image. Thanks.

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Put me down for the color version. Somehow it seems more ominous to me and I like the warm/cool tonal contrast.

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For every set of eyes on this image(s), there are varying opinions and all are equally good. I had one too…of course :wink:

I didn’t see much use for the extended foreground when the lightning was to primary focal point. In any other scenario, for the Palouse, I would find it perhaps a bit too little. The only thing I did was to slightly, ever so slightly enhance the squiggly line in the middle foreground and used the Detail extractor in CEP4 to suck out a little more lightning detail.

(An interesting aside, but when I downloaded the image for editing, it came up on PS with all kinds of wacky colors…not sure why but it has happened on other images. I suspect it may be a way of keeping people from stealing the image.)

Hey @chris10 , nice work. I did not know there were so many other branches on the lightning. I like the extra drama you put in here…

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