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)



  • Chris Nitz

    DANG! Now this is some cool lightning, and I especially like how it appears to wrap around the electrical pole on the bottom center-left side. That is such a monstrous shot.

  • Brian Furbush

    Holy. Shit. This is your best shot to date of lightning, IMO.

  • Chris Frailey

    Nice one Mike. Crazy amount of bolts in this one.

  • Mike

    Yeah, the tendrills or whatever were crazy…just such an explosion!

    Thanks guys!

  • Len Saltiel

    This is freaking awesome Mike. One of the best lightning shots I’ve ever seen.

  • Dave Wilson

    Quite fabulous. Keeping the colour was definitely a great idea, I reckon. The streaking of the rain (I presume) and the detail in the cloud layer is superb.

  • Scott Wood


    I saw this very strike as I was setting my gear up. It certainly was he prettiest of the night and I am happy that someone captured it.

  • Darren Swim

    Amazing capture! What more is there to say. Just, amazing.

  • Bryan Snider

    I’m with Scott. I saw this while heading down I-10. I was hoping one of you had gotten it.

  • David

    Unbelievable. You can see the rain falling as well. Definitely one of your best.

  • Eje Gustafsson

    Absolutely brilliant and what a strike just EPIC.

    For what it’s worth I think color on this one was right. Makes you really “feel” the city under the strike. Another one of those dang what an awesome shot boy don’t I wish that was one of mine. In my area way to much trees and tons of small rolling hills and well no cities of any size to use as cool backdrops as this one. boy ohh boy.. Can’t wait for another good storm to get here.. I want to shot lightning soo bad now..

  • Curt Fleenor

    Holy crap! You can feel the power in this from here!

  • Scott Ackerman

    There you go, making me throw out that word again! EPIC! Congrats bud. Shot of a season right there.

  • Dirk

    Absolutely amazing

  • Jon Stolarski

    Glad you stuck with the color. I love the purple tones in Lightning shots and this one is epic!

  • Toad Hollow Photography

    The power of nature captured in one frame! WOW, Mike, incredible shot good sir!

  • http://none aalevy

    Once more , superb shot. Casa Grande, I was there years ago with my family. You wet my appetite for the desert.

  • Coral

    Another fantastic shot.

  • Bob Lussier

    Good call on the color. This really conveys natures fury.

  • Rob Hanson

    Absolutely un-freakin’-believable. This is pure art.

  • Jesse Pafundi

    Holy moly. Love the purple sky and mists of rain. Just a mind blowing image!

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  • Dave DiCello

    My jaw hit the desk when I saw this Mike. Nothing else to say, but WOW

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