Lightning Stalker
These pictures and stories are credited to David Stillings

Sept. 15, 1992 - Blue Thunder
When I first saw this storm on the radar, I decided that I should go to Orlando to try to capture it with the city as the horizon. As I was heading down Maitland Blvd., I saw that the cars coming toward me were wet and they had their lights on... was it raining in Orl.? The closer I got to I-4, the more I noticed the dark clouds over the city... "maybe it isn't such a good idea after all." I drove past the interstate and wound up in the field next to Tower Place at the Summit just west of I-4. As the sky got darker (it was just at sunset), I moved my camera more and more into the blue sky... wouldn't it be neat if... a bolt would jump out of the cloud and into the blue sky? Well, it did... and I had my shutter open. There IS luck involved, as well as patience, dedication, experience... some imagination... and maybe, just a little bit of crazy... Mostly it's not letting anything get in the way of chasing storms... When I got this image back I noticed that there were dark clouds above the horizon and low to the ground... It was then that I realized that, if I had gone toward Orlando, I would have been covered by low clouds and rain... That's where the 'luck' comes in...

July 1, 1976 - Eruption
My very first photograph of lightning... I couldn't believe it... especially since I had been told that I couldn't capture lightning with my equipment - I needed light sensors, filters, a motor drive, etc... I didn't have any of that stuff... I had a Minolta SRT 101, a couple of lenses, a few rolls of film, and a dream... "Wouldn't it be neat if I could capture lightning.." Actually, I was chasing a sunset in my 1964 Oldsmobile convertible when this storm covered up my sunset... I packed up my equipment and headed home... except that, while I was driving, I had my rear-view mirror angled up so I could see if any lightning would come out of the cloud... I have no idea whether it was a streak of lightning or a reflection off a car, but I saw something in that mirror... I did a U-turn and pulled off Hwy. 50 west of Orlando, on the top of one of the hills out there and I sat there and watched the... Wow!! "did you see it!!??" Right out of the cloud!! Wow! but how could I capture something like that?? I knew that I could never react as fast as the lightning but... maybe, if I leave the shutter open for only 3 seconds... I got my camera out... I put it on my tripod, on the trunk of my car and... "1001, 1002, 1003" close it, wind it... "1001, 1002, 1003" close it, wind it... It was the 4th shot... I had tried three others, shooting a fast three seconds because I knew that, with so much blue sky out there, I would overexpose easily... I opened the shutter for that 4th shot and didn't even get "one thousand one" out and that streak jumped out of the cloud exactly centered in my frame... Natural colors... a GOOD bolt... thank you... thank you... The whole title is: Eruption of Man's innermost frustrations into a world he has created for Himself

August 31, 1993 - Iroquois Sunset
Just another Tuesday evening... Out cruisin' to see if there's anything worth going after... I was heading up I-4 just north of Orlando when I noticed the lightning coming out of the cloud on the edge of the sunset... I knew I'd never make it to Round Lake Rd. (between Sorrento and Mt. Dora, off Rte. 46) so I got off the interstate at Lake Mary and headed to a hill that overlooks the interstate near the Channel 35 studios... I had been there before so it wasn't like I was trying to find a horizon, more like finding one that I knew was there so I wouldn't miss everything by trying to find a horizon in unknown territory... I was on the hill and ready for this thing but, it sort of fizzled... I only did a dozen shots or so, and I didn't even think I had this one because I thought that the lightning had hit too far to the right - right out of my frame... I was pleasantly surprised when I received this print the next day instead of 'nothing' as I expected...
Sept. 18, 1993 - The Quest
"So I was taking a snooze, hey, it was Sat. afternoon... I woke up about 7:20...the first thing I did was go outside to see if there were any clouds worth checking out and due west there was this cloud... I didn't even check the radar... I locked up the house and headed on out... I didn't know where to... but I had to check out this cloud... there was good detail in the cloud - on the north side of it so I headed for the hill near Channel 35 studios, overlooking I-4... What a good 45 minutes... I was shooting vertical instead of horizontal trying to get a shot of lightning coming out of the cloud into the blue, sunset sky... If I got what I think I got, I got at least one really good one coming out of the north side of the cloud into the blue sky and down to the earth... GOOD detail and color... Maybe a couple of others too... I'm having a hard time with titles this year... Not enough titles for the collection... It's called 'The Quest' because I suppose I'm on a personal quest for that perfect bolt of lightning... This one comes real close... Did anybody notice the dog's head at the very top of the cloud? Must have been the 'Dog Days of Summer'... Sounds like a title waiting for an image..."

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