It was December 1998, an unusual thunderstorm blew in over my hometown of Cape Town in South Africa. We had some friends over for dinner that evening and on their way home they called to say lightning had struck the mountains which were now ablaze. I left home, with camera in hand, at around 11pm to go and photograph the mountain on fire. The blaze was very far away from the roadside so I headed back home without getting any shots.
As I approached home however, I saw the thunderstorm had moved in over False Bay once again. I went to a particular spot above my home village of Kalk Bay which I knew well for its view. I set up my camera on a tripod, pointed it in the direction of the strikes across the bay, and started shooting.
I had no idea if I had captured anything as in those days, using film cameras, I did not have the playback option on the back of my camera. The next day I went with excitement to the lab to have the film processed. Out of the 36 exposures on the spool, I submitted the best to a contact at the local newspaper. They printed this image in their Sunday edition! The newspaper didn't pay me much but they did take my number and passed all queries for prints on to me. I earned good money selling prints to people all over the world. Some still have the image hanging on their walls.
For this particular image shown, I left the shutter open for about 15 seconds. The photo captured two lightning strikes – one hitting in the bay and the other hitting the mountains on the other side of the bay.
This image started me on my path to becoming a professional photographer.
There is no way I could have captured this image if I did not know how to use manual settings.