Photography by Kristen Westlake, kristenwestlake.com
As Wisconsin’s springtime approaches, photographer Kristen Westlake waits with anticipation for thunderstorms to light up the sky. To capture one-of-a-kind images of lightning, Westlake relies on her keen understanding of technology juxtaposed with her innate sense of creativity and imagination.
Dusk, when the light is interesting and objects are visible, is Kristen Westlake’s preferred time of day for photographing this unpredictable subject. her tools include a radar app for her iPhone that becomes her compass as she watches the sky for storm clouds that look promising. As the storms get closer, she sets up two Nikon d810s on separate tripods. one camera has a 17-35mm f/2.8 lens and the other has a 24mm PCE tilt shift lens, but both feature neutral density filters to darken the frame enabling each shutter to remain open so she can slow the speed to roughly six-second exposures.
Kristen Westlake explains her work in these terms: spontaneous, invigorating and challenging. Capturing the unknown also makes this subject exciting as she waits in the near darkness as ominous clouds appear and strikes, flashes and bolts scatter across the heavens.