This short clip was captured over two month period during the peak of monsoon season in south east Asia, a total of 6500 images. Inspired by Mike Olbinski’s stunning work from Phoenix, Arizona.
Shooting started at the beginning of September, low season in Cambodia. A few clips in the paddy fields, followed by a trip to the coast got the majority of the storms moving through. It wasn’t until I returned to Siem Reap that I witnessed the spectacular formations of the cumulonimbus clouds.
Mode of transport is a 250 dirt bike, no luxuries with a car here. Filming lightning has its shares of danger, with 107 people killed due to lightning in Cambodia during 2015. It can a bit get scary in the exposed paddy fields of SE Asia.
I wouldn’t call this storm chasing as there’s a bit of predictability with the weather. It was a case of right place, right time. I’d look for a cloud formation which may evolve but I would often change camera angle missing footage from my first position, time for a second camera, I think.
Shooting with changing light conditions means changing settings. Capturing lightning requires long exposures, so starting with small aperture early evening. Trials with an ND filter were fruitless, as when the light dropped, the iso would ramp too high. Shooting typically starts with a 2 second exposure, 5 second interval. As the light drops going into night, increase the exposure and interval times to perhaps 8 & 12 seconds, leaving some time for the image to write to the card. The longer the shutter is open the more chance of capturing lightning. ‘Qdslrdashboard’ was used via wifi with the Canon 6D to control the camera, eliminating the need to touch it.
This project has been enjoyable compared to the Angkor temples project, with the limitations for filming that Apsara authority have in place unless special costly permits are obtained. Having the freedom to wonder the countryside at any time is great. One major lesson I’ve learn’t is to be aware of storm flies, big dragon fly like things here, simply because editing them out is a relentless task. It’s great to finally finish this project in time for high season. What next, time-lapse down the Mekong..!?
Other time-lapse projects: