Lightning at Diablo Canyon, New Mexico
image © Robert Luis Chavez

Willa #3...
Willa at Diablo Canyon, open flash,
exposure time approximately 1 minute.


I had always wanted to get a portrait of someone with lightning in the background and I finally got my chance in the summer of 99. At a teen and young adult party at Diablo Canyon I met Willa. Immediately I wanted to take a picture of her and her two foot spiked mohawk with the lightning skies as a backdrop. I introduced myself and Willa agreed to participate in my scheme.

With a 100 ASA film, I first set the aperture to f/11 because the lightning was frequent, close, and bright. Then I manually set the flash for the distance to Willa for the aperture I had chosen. I manually popped the flash a slight distance away from the camera to expose Willa onto the film. Then I asked Willa to stand as still as possible until one or more lightning bolts were also exposed on to the film. Willa graciously let me pose her in this manner till I shot two rolls of film, at which point the rain from the lightning storms arrived. It was only the rain, and not the lightning, which forced me to quit shooting and which ended the party as well..