Ok, perhaps not a great title.
tonight we were entertained by Peter Scott.
Peter’s passion at the moment, apart from photography, is the Northern lights.
He began the evening though, with his previous obsession, storm chasing.
He took us through his journey, starting with a parent’s book picked up in childhood, showing amongst other things, tornadoes (oh that spelling looks so wrong … should it have an e in there? … surely it just tornados? Ah well I’ll leave it to ya’ll to make your own minds up) where was I
Oh yeah, so he tells us that his Dad sez ’you’ll never see them here’
Years later, and with his trusty film camera, he tries to capture lightning in a storm. Quite a few films later and with all the subsequent processing costs (weird how you can never remember those detrimental costs … I used to come back from an air show with twenty plus films … must have sent me back a fortune) he finally got his first bolt.
That was the build up.
He then showed us, with simple graphics, how a storm forms, (something else I’ve learned) and of course, with everything being bigger and better(?) in the States, it’s off to ‘Merica
Wow, his shots, along with little videos during the show, convey the power and glory of nature. The rising air and falling rain causing the friction that creates lightning, then, when wind shear comes in to play, moving the thunderheads along, brings the chance of tornadoes. You often hear the term savage beauty, his photos had it in spades. The colours and details in the storm clouds, the ragged lightning … I were gobsmacked. "How close did you get?” was asked "A respectful distance” came the reply.
With tales of experts losing their lives whilst daring to challenge the storms, a photo of the resultant damage to property (I’m not into that side of it, said Peter) & videos of bits of houses flying out of the side of a tornado and a hailstone storm, it made me glad (maybe a little sad) that I don’t live in America.
He finished the segment with a huge storm that came up off of Spain last year, where he started on Dungeness and followed it up to Maidstone as the storm rolled up the Channel … so we do get them here, just not as frequent.
And it’s back to the parent’s book, right underneath the tornado picture was a picture of the Aurora Borealis.
Peter tells us, of a camping trip to Scotland, he hears that a solar storm is due to hit and northern lights may be the result, that’s it, he’s hooked. He points out that the camera sensor is much more adept at picking up the lights than our own eyes.
Again he takes us on his learning curve, his trips to Norway, the cold, living in a hut, the snow coming and spoiling the view, the cold, playing with the dog teams, did I mention the cold, drone camera footage of … again a savage beauty. Crazily clear air, a sun that just rolls along the horizon rather than setting, being careful because your own body heat and breath can freeze up the camera and lens.
His friend, a member of the Sámi tribe that follow the reindeer herd across the northern landscape, has put his roots down in this area and scrapes a living, hunting, fishing, and entertaining loonies who want to come and photograph the Northern lights. Again he shows us huge sky photos of the lights, explains the pillars of light (you had to be there, man) sun dogs (a light phenomenon caused by ice crystals in the air) Interspersed with videos, he tells us of settings on the cameras, how it has to be fast enough not to streak the stars but slow enough to capture the lights. I can’t even begin to describe the shots.
After these fabulous images he asked the question ‘where else can I capture the lights?’
and he gave us other parts of Norway, Iceland, Scotland, Holy Isle (yeah I know that’s Scotland too, I was just intrigued that you just needed a dark sky and an unhindered view northwards) Norfolk and, amazingly enough, after one of his mates in Norfolk phoned and said "Have you seen what’s brewing” a quick trip down the road with his camera and an absolutely stunning picture of Mountnessing Windmill with a red, gold and green display of the Aurora Borealis.
Thank you Peter,
you spoke of how much enjoyment you got when it all came together.
I hope that each time you put on this exhibition,