Holy CRAP that was close

Uploaded 22 Aug 2010 — 10 favorites
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© Mike Olbinski
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More of Mike Olbinski’s Photos

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Photo Info
UploadedAugust 22, 2010
TakenAugust 22, 2010
Exposure9 sec at f/5.6
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length28 mm

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Enter "Water"!

Q: Focus Fine Art Magazine

A: Do you know?

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Storms rolled into Phoenix from the southeast last night at a fairly fast clip. I was photographing some lightning off on the horizon to the northeast while waiting for the stuff south to hit us.

Once it finally arrived, it was quickly evident that if you wanted to stand outside your car with a tripod to photograph lightning, you'd better have a wetsuit and waterproof housing for your camera, not to mention a personal "windshield wiper" for your lens. There was just so much water, the levels of Precip Water in the Atmo (PWAT) were close to 2 inches I heard, and we received 1.22 inches at my house. That makes the third storm this year that we've gotten over an inch of rain.

So the photo above. Wow. I learned a secret from Shane Kirk about shooting lightning in pouring rain. You can do it from your dashboard with the windshield wipers on high. It's not ideal, it may not work perfectly nor give you the most crisp shot of all time...but if you have no other choice, it can suffice.

This strike hit just under half a mile away from what I judged. Usually you know a bolt is close when you see the burnt orange "fire trails" that kind of fade away from a close strike. There was a little debate with my buddy Bryan about whether it hit right in front of that sign, but if you click on the large version, you can see the main, thicker part of the bolt stops at that hill and the rest of it is some kind of reflection in the rain.

The one bummer, if there is one, was that I was at 28mm for this shot when I should have been wide open at 17mm. Would have been even more amazing to see the upper levels of this bolt. Feel lucky to have captured this, the storm was essentially on top of me and I chose one direction to aim.

If you want to see an uncropped version (there isn't much cropped out of this at all), and see it MUCH larger, check it out on my blog: MikeOlbinski.com

9 responses

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (22 Aug 2010):

    I bet you're still feeling the sizzle from this one! An incredible (and dangerous!!!! {that's the mom in me talking}) capture.

  • Bruce Wendler

    Bruce Wendler gave props (22 Aug 2010):

    Went to your site, amazing shot. Still haven't caught one myself.

  • Marq

    Marq (Deleted) gave props (24 Aug 2010):

    That is one for the ages.

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (25 Aug 2010):


  • Carol Arntsen Masiak

    Carol Arntsen Masiak gave props (25 Aug 2010):

    close is putting it mildly - wow!

  • John Adair

    John Adair gave props (26 Aug 2010):

    Whoa! "Close" is an understatement, amazing!

  • Carlo Pagan

    Carlo Pagan gave props (29 Aug 2010):

    WoW WoW!!!

  • Paul Romero

    Paul Romero gave props (2 Feb 2011):

    COOL STUFF!!! Love your work.

  • PabloHunny

    PabloHunny gave props (30 Mar 2011):

    wow, yes, very close! i feel ur "bummer" but still an awesome shot. i think getting the bottom part of this was a statement of its own.

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