High Voltage Photo Exhibit
During February, 2008

         Ever been curious about what goes on with Arizona's weather during the summer months? During February the Arboretum's Visitor Center Gallery will host a tandem exhibit by Arizona's two best-known lightning photographers: Susan Strom and Cathy Franklin. Our state's population swells during cooler months, but for lightning photographers, summer is the season of anticipation.

         "Lightning Lady" Susan Strom is going on nearly a dozen years as a stormchaser; electrical storms are her passion, and she has chased them across ten states. In recent years she has pursued Arizona lightning more specifically along the Mogollon Rim country and mountainous ranges.

         "Mountains lift the air, sparking severe weather," she said. "What drives me to chase is the rare lightning shot that takes me multiple attempts, sometimes even years and a thousand miles to achieve. With this type of photojournalism, persistence eventually wins out."

         Strom lives in Fountain Hills, and notes that living in Arizona places her just a day's drive from "Tornado Alley," where she has chased the heavy weather of the Great Plains. It can be a lonely pursuit, but she savors the long nights, extreme distances and other difficulties posed by her art and her elusive subject. Strom has been published in four countries - and has been seen by millions via the Grand Canyon episode of "Weather Ventures" on The Weather Channel.

         "The Desert Southwest has some of the most beautiful lightning on Earth, and our open spaces create ideal conditions for photographing the sky," says Strom. "My goal as a stormchaser is to continually pursue the sharpest, clearest image possible of the lightning strike. Each lightning bolt has it's own uniqueness, and capturing them in detail and sharing with others is pure joy. The images are never altered or retouched, I want to preserve the moment as closely as possible to the way it happened. Arizona skies, dry air, and desert terrains provide the natural colors for the images, whether the lightning is set off by an orange sunset, soft blue rainclouds or wine-colored sandstorms. Color is always part of the scene in the Southwest."

         "Some people speak of the weather as a constantly changing frontier, varying, unpredictable and sometimes moody. I like to think of the lightning I chase as a 'split-second' frontier, present just for a fleeting moment. Since I know the lightning bolt will not last, and is difficult for our eyes to view accurately for any length of time, I am driven to record it on film. To me, lightning is one of the most beautiful phenomena on Earth."

        Her exhibit collaborator, Cathy Franklin, is on the faculty at Collins College in Tempe, and posts her own photos on her website electricskies.com. Raised in Oklahoma, Franklin jokes: "I guess you could call me a Desert Sooner," and she recalls standing in the driveway as a child with her father counting funnel clouds.

        "The sirens always sent chills down my spine. We were the only ones on our street who had a basement, so during a thunderstorm, we would have the whole neighborhood over with everyone swapping scary storm stories. The lightning always petrified me, but I always had to watch," says Franklin. My family and neighbors think I'm nuts, especially when I get up on our roof to photograph the incoming storms."

         "About fourteen years ago, I began teaching design and animation. It was this career move that led me back to photographing lightning. Five years ago, I was fortunate enough to be working with Susan; she showed me some of her photos and being genuinely impressed, it awoke my passion and I blew dust off my camera and got busy stormchasing."

         Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located at Highway 60 milepost #223, just three miles west of the town of Superior - a drive of about one hour east of Phoenix or two hours from Tucson (take Oracle Road North to Highway 79 past Florence to Highway 60, then East for another 12 miles). Monthly exhibits may be seen in our Visitor Center gallery daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (summer hours 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from May-through-August). The Arboretum is an Arizona State Park and daily admission must be paid to enter the Visitor Center where the gallery is found. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $3 for ages 5-12. Annual memberships at the Arboretum begin at $45, and include a year's access, guest passes for your friends and family, along with many other benefits. A membership may be purchased in the gift shop on the day of your visit. To review other recent gallery shows by ...

Arizona State Parks Plein Air Paintings January, 2008
Carolyn Gray & Connie Thomas December, 2007
Jean Sullivan November, 2007
Sue Cullumber October, 2007
Adriane Grimaldi September, 2007
Pima College print-making students July-August, 2007
Mesa Arts League June-July, 2007
Fred Charlton May, 2007
Paul Mudersbach March-April, 2007
Linda Kaiser February, 2007
Edith Kreueger-Nye December, 2006 - January, 2007
Cindy Carrillo October-November, 2006
Bob Rice September, 2006
Bud Heiss July-August, 2006
Mesa Arts League June-July, 2006
Sandy Tracey April-May, 2006
CJ Rider March, 2006
Jessica Green February, 2006
Steve Davidson January, 2006
Don & Carole Schupp December, 2005
Carolyn Gray November, 2005
Martha Burgess October, 2005
Boeing Photographers September, 2005
Lightning Lady Susan Strom July/August, 2005
Mesa Arts League June/July, 2005
Jeanette Bronson May, 2005
Tom Stanley April, 2005
Kathy McClure February-March, 2005
Pam Smyth January, 2005
Tina Faust December, 2004