Stormset / by Strain

A few weeks back, the most intense thunderstorm that I can remember parked itself over the lower mainland and unleashed Zeus' fury for the better part of an afternoon. Having been out of town for the previous weeks' electrifying weather, I was eager to get out and put a pair of new wide lenses to the test. I quickly found out that the bulbous front element on the Rokinon (aka Samyang aka Bower) 14mm 2.8 is not well suited to shooting in a thundershower; spending more time wiping rain off the lens than shooting, I failed to capture any lightning strikes. As the storm tapered off into the evening, I figured I wasn't going to have the opportunity to catch a night sky light show. The storm was fading, and thick cloud to the west was making the prospect of decent light seem remote. As I was packing up my bag, however, the windows along the English Bay waterfront began to light up - the telltale sign of a classic Vancouver sunset. The sun, nearly at the horizon, was beaming through the sliver of clear sky between sea and cloud, illuminating the final showers pulsing from the underbelly of the dying storm with a vibrant orange glow.

Nikon D800 18-35 AF-S @ ISO 100 / f/16 / 1/6 sec

Rain can be a real buzzkill while shooting. Sometimes the best approach is to embrace it and see what happens.

Though the storm had broken, the rain had not yet subsided and wind-driven drizzle continued to pile up on my lens. I rolled with it, since the effect of rain on the lens was kinda neat and the colour was amazing, but I knew I wasn't getting anything spectacular. I turned back to my camera bag to try a longer lens and was blown away by what was unfolding behind me.

oh my god!

I hastily swapped out the 18-35 for the Rokinon 14, dialed in the focus and started shooting. The over-sized front element seemed to draw in rain from all angles, but I managed to get a couple frames that were free of large droplets. The sunset was intensifying at my back and the rain had all but stopped; satisfied that I had a keeper, I swung my camera back around to capture the blazing sky to the west.


No sooner had I framed this shot, the storm's last fork of lightning struck the downtown skyline, searing an unforgettable 'what if' into my mind's eye.

As the colours faded over English Bay, I shot a couple tighter frames with another new addition to my quiver, the AF-S 85mm 1.8G. Highly regarded as one of the best-value Nikkor lenses, it fully reveals the power of the D800 sensor - the level of detail resolved is truly remarkable. Every time I've used it, something special seems to happen.

Nikon D800 AF-S 85mm 1.8 ISO 100 / f/4.0 / 1/80

It's been years since I photographed a sunset from Kits Beach, but it used to be my go-to spot for a quick creative fix. It's nice to know things haven't changed too much.

Next up for the blog, a different perspective on the night sky, and some more thoughts on the AF-S 18-35mm and Rokinon 14mm 2.8. With the fresh look I'm trying to keep the content a little more current - more soon.