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Wilaha

A distant thunderstorm rumbles and throws down tons of bolts west of the small community of Wilaha in northern Arizona.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2, f/5.6, iso 500, 25 sec, 6-images stacked)

I spent yesterday afternoon up in northern Arizona, hoping to grab some lightning at the Grand Canyon, but of course…that’s an elusive goal and once again it didn’t pan out. But I did see quite a few rotating storms, drove through a great hail storm east of the Canyon, then witnessed a beautiful rainbow over the Little Colorado canyon there, followed up by a gorgeous sunset from Moran Point and then this little isolated storm on my way home towards Williams. It blew up in the distance west of Wilaha, moved closer and closer to me, the bolts were great, but sadly no good west roads and it died out before I was hoping.

Decided to do a 6-image stack of this storm…because it was so distant and any single bolt didn’t seem to do it justice!

Out of the cloud

Out of the Cloud
(please click to view this image on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 160, f/8.0, 15 sec // buy print)

Last season I captured a brief timelapse of a thunderhead building up with lightning illuminating it from the inside. What made it awesome was the moonlight. The moon was almost full and thus the cloud was already visible with the naked eye even though it was well past dark. It made it extra awesome because you could already see the cloud building almost as if it were daytime, and then the lightning as also visibly illuminating the cloud as well.

Since that night I so badly wanted to capture some storms with the moon nearing fullness. And on October 17th, it finally happened.

I was out on Interstate 8 near Gila Bend shooting north when I look behind me and see this line of storms building. What’s so awesome is that normally, without the moonlight, I likely wouldn’t have seen it very well…and maybe missed it entirely. But with that extra light, I could see the cloud plain as day. One section started growing larger, so I aimed that way and waited.

Even more interesting was the fact that this cloud didn’t even seem that big. But boom! Bolts started raining down. Standing there it almost felt like the strikes themselves were just as tall as the cloud. I’ve never captured lightning from a such a small storm before…I couldn’t even believe it produced anything.

Definitely one of my favorite shots from 2013.

Trips

Trips
(please click to view large on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 320, f/16, 1.0 sec, three image stack // buy print)

I feel like I’ve been converted this past summer. I used to be all purist-y and think most stacked lightning photos were unnecessary and took away from the beauty of a single strike. But they I saw a few ones that were well done. And then I found myself in situations where the single strike was incredibly boring but showing a bunch at one time was a heck of a lot more interesting.

Here is another one from this past summer. This was taken July 29th. The storm was moving left to right, so the bolts are actually in order of the movement of the storm over the span of 1:16. With the light I had going on, I was firing off 1 second exposures and got lucky enough to capture these three strikes over the course of 76 shutter clicks.

I liked the middle one by itself, but the other two on the edges were just a bit too far to the edge of the frame for my liking. So I tried a stack and loved it.

Definitely a fun way to enhance lightning photography.

 

 

Crossing Interstate 8

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, f/6.3, stack of nine images shot at 25 seconds each // buy print)

This is my second go at stacking lightning images (first is here)…I tend to avoid this but sometimes when a single shot of lightning is kind of boring and doesn’t make the cut, it’s interesting to see what happens if you put a bunch of those together into one final photograph.

I shot this back on September 4th while this storm crossed over Interstate 8 from right to left across the frame. The nine images were captured from 9:15pm to 9:21pm.

I’m neck deep in weddings and family photography right now, but yeah, I’m kind of excited already for next summer!

 

A barrage of lightning over Phoenix

The amount of times I’ve stacked lightning images to create one mega-photograph can be counted on a single hand. And this is the first time I’ve ever posted one.

I was never a fan of stacked lightning shots until I saw an amazing one by Dan Ransom and then Justin Terveen’s image from Dallas. Suddenly I was like…okay, they CAN be interested in the right context.

For me personally…this image is the result of all the individual shots being kind of boring. I’d never post one by itself because it lacked awesomeness.

But together…they kind of show you the power of a monsoon thunderstorm. This is a stack of 12 images over the course of 10 minutes. Looking north from 7th street near McDowell.