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Cloud to ground

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 24mm, iso 125, f/7.1, 30 sec // buy print)

I recommend clicking on the image…it will put a black box around it and fit it to your screen size…just in case your monitor isn’t giant like mine isn’t.

Haven’t posted a lightning strike in what feels like AGES, which is probably far from the truth. Anyways, this was a towering strike that I cropped to fill the entire frame. The original capture had it a bit more to the left than I liked. When shooting lightning, sometimes you don’t aim in the right spot and almost miss. So cropping is a fantastic way to recompose the image to get your bolt looking awesome.

In the realm of weather, a lightning strike that hits the surface of the earth is technically called “Cloud to Ground” or CG. These are the kind I of course go for. There are very, very rare occasions where “In Cloud” lightning creates an awesome image.

I have one of those rare ones that I’ll post at a later day. One of my favorites.

Vortex of Electricity

We return to last Thursday night just above Casa Grande on highway 387 north of the city. A great spot for an elevated position over the city, the second I arrived and got setup, the light show went nuts. I think I have at least 3-4 keepers just from a 20 minute span here and that didn’t count a couple I got early on the south edges of Phoenix.

These first few shots I got here were kind of special though. Yes, the Chaos of Light I posted last week was pretty dang intense and probably the best of the bunch, but this shot has the early visual of the microburst going on with this storm cell. You can see the rain falling and a weird fog hovering over the city. That is either rain or dust, but I believe it’s probably a bit of a mixture. I also love the cone-shaped cloud that the lightning is coming out of…almost like some kind of vortex.

The photo below is a bit grainy, but you can really see what a microburst does. Rain falls out of the cloud with an intense downburst, and then the wind explodes in all directions. A microburst can create winds up to 100mph at times in a very isolated spot. When people ask how come we get all these dust storms in Phoenix, or what creates them…this is it. Downdrafts/microburst that create strong winds that kick up the dust and flow outwards for great distances. You get a bunch of these together and suddenly they form a huge wall of dust 70 miles long.

Last year I posted a series of images that was called “The Birth of a Dust Storm“…if you want to see a bit more.

Arizona Monsoon Microburst

Chaos of Light

Chaos of Light - Casa Grand Arizona Lightning

(please click to view on black, it’s just that much better)

I was in Vegas for two pretty busy days Wednesday and Thursday. Landed back home around 5pm last night. Ate dinner, spent some time with the family, saw some weather on the radar and since it had been almost week since I did any kind of stormchasing, I decided to head out.

Glad I did.

I captured a few strikes early on from Queen Creek and I-10, but then I decided to head south. I stopped for a bit, hoping more lightning would flare up and soon enough, further south a cell started flashing. A dust storm arrived, and shooting lightning through a wall of that stuff is useless, so I flew south, blasted through the dust and popped out the other side just in time.

I had a spot picked out from a few weeks ago to get some elevation if a storm ever appeared over Casa Grande. I arrived, set up quickly and then sat around watching the city in front of me get lambasted with lightning strikes.

This was the shot of the night for me. I don’t usually talk about processing, but this one was kind of different for me. I did what I usually do when I convert lightning to black and white (Silver Efex is a big part of that), but then decided at the last minute to keep the color. So you not only get the extra definition in the clouds and rain that my B&W processing provides, but also enhanced colors tones. It may vary with monitors and browsers, but at least on mine, it doesn’t look like TOO much color.

It’s kind of hard to put a finger on the why, but for some reason on this shot, I felt like the color better conveyed the scene than being devoid of it.

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but this year has been absolutely epic for lightning in Arizona. Seems like anytime I go out, I find the storm and point the camera. It’s never that easy, but this season has been crazy awesome.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 30mm, f/7.1, iso 200, 30sec – buy print)