The odds of capturing that perfect shot of lightning is slightly less than actually being struck by it.
But Table View’s Alex de Kock managed to take two remarkable photos of the elusive phenomena within the space of a minute last Saturday – in Cape Town nonetheless!
Quite understandably, the images that were uploaded to various social media platforms went viral, and Alex is caught right in the thick of things.
Braving a lightning storm on Blouberg beach is childs play when compared to keeping track of where the photos are being used illegally.
“I copyrighted the images and will be selling them eventually,” says the 54-year-old marketer and wedding photographer.
Capitalising on this rare phenomenon isn’t, however, what this story is about.
Rather, it is about overcoming the odds, having incredible luck by being at the right time and place, and about reaching a zenith in one’s hobby.
“Sadly, I don’t think I will ever take another photo as special as these two,” says Alex hesitantly.
To quote Photography Mad’s website: “Lightning is one of the hardest photographic subjects to shoot successfully.”
Alex’s two lightning shots could easily be considered as the best ever taken along the West Coast.
TygerBurger contacted the man whose photo got 2 000 likes on Facebook in one day, and he gladly shared his story.
“I’m in a rhythm of waking up at five, but on a Saturday I normally go back to sleep. On that particular day I didn’t.
“I thought I could be lying awake in bed or take my D700 Nikon for a spin! I bought that Nikon, a real fancy camera, a year ago,” he continues.
Alex got in his car and drove down Blouberg Road in misty weather, which he knew was far from ideal for taking low-light shots of Table Mountain.
He could easily have turned back, but fate had something better in store.
“I was on a deserted beach at 05:30 with my tripod and camera when I noticed lightning over Robben Island. It was far away,” says Alex.
Much to his delight the storm appeared to be moving closer.
“The flashes became quite hectic,” he exclaims.
He pointed his camera towards the sea and tried a few shots, but the lightning was either too far away or over exposed.
As the storm moved closer to shore he decided the best chance of capturing a flash would be to leave his shutter open for 30 seconds, but right after a picture was taken it takes another 30 seconds to process it and, as Murphy would have it, the periods between photos were the ones he needed to photograph.
He then decided to leave the shutter open for 10 seconds, with a F-stop of nine, and a slow ISO.
What this essentially means for laymen is that he could take a pic every 20 seconds (a 10 second exposure and 10 seconds processing).
An hour and a half and approximately 200 photos later, he captured two bolts in two photos.
“I immediately knew I got them, but the anticipation was intense! When I got into the car after the rain hit I checked the photos on the view finder and couldn’t believe it.”
His son uploaded a photo onto Facebook and from there it took on a life of it’s own.
For photographers, moments like these come once in a lifetime.
And Alex is certainly enjoying the ride!