Through the Deluge: Great Falls National Park

This past Wednesday, we had a fierce thunderstorm come through the area. I’ve been wanting to capture some lightning over Great Falls, and thought it to be a good opportunity.

I came pretty well equipped, with my rain coat and pants, umbrella, and waterproof flashlight, but none really did anything to cope with what I encountered.

I scampered down the rocks from the 1st overlook and the rain started to come down. First in steady drops, then as sheets. I continued my way towards the shore as the thunder & lightning arrived.

I got to a nice position on a large, flat rock and noticed that kayakers, like me, were inspired by the weather! They continued surfing and rowing against the water, even as the currents slowly gained steam.

Water was really coming in from everywhere, so I had to veryyy careffullyyy remove my camera and lens under the precarious safety of my umbrella. The winds were picking up so the umbrella was swaying a little too much for comfort.

I finally positioned my camera towards the falls and waited for the lightning to come more often. It didn’t happen. The lightning came in quick and spontaneous bursts, not the steady flashing strobe I was hoping for. As the deluge continued, I decided to capture what I could before the water damaged my equipment.

Far out in the top of the most interesting section of falls in the park, a lone Great Blue Heron stood overwatch, and was stoic in the storm. He was obviously more composed than me, still searching for his food somehow despite my thought that his direct and peripheral vision would be way skewed from the water coming from every direction. With the backdrop of dark clouds and mist, it made a pretty dramatic scene:

“Through the Deluge”
[image_frame align=”left” height=”427″ width=”640″ title=”Through the Deluge” alt=”A heron stands tall during a fierce thunderstorm at Great Falls National Park”][/image_frame]
A Great Blue Heron poised stoically over Great Falls during a heavy thunderstorm.
Canon 5dm2, 70-200/4L IS @ 187mm, f/7.1, 1/6 sec, ISO 2000, tripod

On another note, these herons, which frequent the park in summer months, are wily and courageous creatures. They will seemingly dive through the most violent of water to get their catch. For example, see this image from last Friday:

“Risk and Reward”
[image_frame align=”left” height=”427″ width=”640″ title=”Risk and Reward” alt=”A Great Blue Heron rises from the violent rapids with a prize.”][/image_frame]
A Great Blue Heron rises from the violent rapids with a prize.
Canon 5dm2, Canon 70-200mm/f4L @127mm, f/16, 1/5sec, ISO 5000

Pretty amazing to see a writhing catfish in the Great Blue Heron’s mount. No chance I could have ever spotted a fish like that in the rushing rapids of Great Falls.

Anyways, back to the shoot during the thunderstorm. It was a really exciting experience for me! I was completely soaked, but with a warm, late spring storm it was kind of like a cool bath. To me, it was like playing in rain as a small child. Though I was happy to be soaked, I will say I am lucky that my equipment came out unscathed and dry. My new F-stop Loka bag held all of my lenses and equipment dry… even without that rain cover (which I probably should get….. .. .. …. yeah.).


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