Coast guard employee strikes with Western Light lightning photo

Published on June 14, 2017

The photo captured by Neil Green on June 12, the night of the big thunderstorm that struck southwestern Nova Scotia. Green shot this photo at Western Light on Brier Island.

©Neil Green

BRIER ISLAND, NS – Capturing a lightning strike shot doesn’t happen in a flash according to one man who recently did just that.

Neil Green is a lifeboatman and rescue specialist with the Canadian Coast Guard and works out of the Brier Island station.

He was on the island June 12 when the thunderstorm began and drove his Jeep over to the Western Light lighthouse, set up his camera and waited.

“The lightning came and I felt it strike. It made me see stars and my ears ring – couldn’t have hit more than 700 yards away,” he said.

Green is a regular when it comes to photographing nature and weather patterns, but said this striking shot was something different.

“It’s definitely a challenge to get a nice photo of something like this. You set your camera up on a very long exposure, and if lightning strikes you capture it,” he said.

“There aren’t any guarantees.”


Photographing the island

Many of Green’s favourite photos he’s captured have come from lighthouses on the island like Western Light and Northern Light.

Green shoots his sunrises at the northern location and his sunsets at the western one.

It’s a safe bet both locations will produce quality photos, yet every day is different, he said.

Sometimes the photos don’t turn out, even with such beautiful surroundings.

“I shoot on manual and tried to get a shot of a massive lightning strike, even greater than the one I captured, but it came out overexposed,” he said.

Green posted his photo on the Facebook group We Love Nova Scotia. It has received nearly 2,000 likes and has over 150 comments.

“I’ve had a few people ask me if the lighthouse itself was struck,” said Green.

“The strike happened on the water, but it came out looking like it was the lighthouse that had been struck.”


His own focus

Green’s family and friends also love the photo. One of Green’s friends even asked for a printed copy to frame inside his new house.

Green said while he receives praise for the his photos, he would never make a serious business out of it.

“I’ve done a calendar before but didn’t do it for money. I can never decide what to charge for photos I’ve taken because I’m my own worst critic,” he said.

“I really don’t mind sharing them though.”

Green takes most of his nature photos when he goes for a drive around the island after work.

It gets him out and about and allows him to see potential for new pictures, he says.

Even at his most critical, he can’t find much to argue with when looking at his striking storm photo.

“This is definitely my favourite photo today,” he said.

“I’m probably going to print this one.”