I’m kind of anal when it comes to the composition of lightning shots. I like a certain look, a certain kind of strike, a certain kind of framing and if I don’t have it, I’ll just throw out the image. Examples are capturing only HALF a strike. You were aimed in the general area but the bolt obviously has a lot going on off-camera that you missed. That’s not good enough for me.

Anyways, this bolt has a pretty intense tendril going off camera, but for the most part, the entire strike is in the center of the frame. It’s definitely not my favorite lightning shot of all time, but the reason I’m posting it is how amazed I am at all the small details. If you look closely towards the top (and anywhere really) you can see tons of faint lines of less intense tendrils going everywhere. I love it. I don’t think my shots from last year had this much detail in them and I’m stoked to see what happens this summer.

I find this stuff just utterly fascinating. This was shot just a few weeks ago in Memphis. The official start to the Arizona monsoon season was yesterday, but so far the outlook is at LEAST 2-3 weeks away before we start seeing that seasonal storm flow begin. I’m getting antsy.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 100, f/5.0, 20 sec)

  • David

    This is amazing. I just bought a 50mm 1.8 for my Canon T1i. I am goig to do a bunch of experimenting with it this weekend while visiting the folks in South Carolina. Any words of advice?

  • Scott Ackerman

    Yummy! Great capture my friend. I hope I walk away with as good a lightning shot this year. Well done.

  • Chris Frailey

    Cool shot Mike. I’m looking forward to monsoon season more than ever this year.

  • Jesse

    Just amazing. Like you said, love those small tendrils. You are rocking these my man.

  • Dave DiCello

    You are such a master at these Mike, no one shoots lightning like you!!!!!!!!

  • Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    Looks painful and joyful

  • Jim Denham

    Incredible shot Mike! Amazed at this type of photography – would love to learn how you do it!

  • Chris Nitz

    Holy crazy coolness! Love all the tendrils and the very subtle land silhouette at the bottom. Super shot!

  • Alistair Cunningham

    Love this, something I’ve always wanted to capture – only problem I have – how do I stop my 5dMkii (not weather proof) from getting water logged!?

  • Curt Fleenor

    Those small tendril rock Mike!

  • Brian Furbush

    Whoa this is a crazy shot – love the way you composed it, crazy scale!Z Nice work Mike.

  • Jason Hines

    Amazing man, just incredible!

  • Rick Young


  • A.Barlow

    Mike.O going hard core with it!

    Man, I’m just still amazed people are able to get pics of lightning at all. I mean, not like it waits around for you and all 🙂

    I think the shot looks great.

  • Philip@Printer Cartridges

    Breathtaking shot Mike. It’s amazing how much lightning the naked eye missies during a strike. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jan Winther

    Awesome awesome shot Mike. Amazing to see how the lightning branches out like that. Looks like tiny veins. I just thought about the thunder that would be after this puppy. Very cool.

  • Toad Hollow Photography

    I need a crane to pick my jaw up off the floor. WOW! Absolutely mysterious and mesmerizing shot here, Mike, I am speechless for once! Great work.

  • Chris DeAngelis

    Sweet shot Mike! Love all those tendrils!

  • Kristi Hines

    Wow… just wow. The bottom part where the lighting fades into the darkness reminds me of delicate jellyfish tentacles. Awesome shot!

  • Chrisdmrf

    Simply stunning, absolutely in awe of this. Really want to take some lightning shots but not too easy in London. We had thunder last night but I was driving during BOTH flashes, the first was behind me and I thought I’d set off a GATSO

  • Chris Kenison

    Saweet shot man! Just awesome!

  • Capnschwartz

    BOOYA! What a picture!

  • Tom Phillips

    Great shot Mike! looking forward to some storms! send us some moist air from down south!