lightning photo White Lakes, New Mexico
image © Robert Luis Chavez

Atomica #2...
An isolated thunderstorm near White Lakes, New Mexico.


Chasing storms and photographing lightning is as much luck as it is an art or a science. I've driven hundreds of miles, day and night, to chase storms. Sometimes I'm rewarded, sometimes I'm not - other times I've taken great shots right from home.

My main sources of storm information are the Weather Channel and sticking my head outside to see what's happening. You can also pull up any number of on-line sources for satellite and radar images, and even current lightning maps.

One simple technique you can use to evaluate storms is simply using an AM radio: Lightning emits a wide range of radiation and the easiest to detect, besides the light, is in the AM frequencies on the lower end of the dial. Mariners use that knowledge too, and know that a lot of static on the radio means that there is a storm somewhere. The radio signature of lightning adds an extra level of information to your own storm chase, especially in daylight or cloudy conditions when lightning is hard to see.