Lightning in the City

Spring Thunderstorm Generates Tons of Lightning

June, 2006

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Way lucky shot. Strike on 7 World Trade Center.

The Experience

The first week back in Manhattan from Seattle we had a big thunderstorm. It was about 8pm and Rob Lensman and I were heading home from the office. As we were getting soaked from the rain, I told him that I was going back to the apartment and set up for some time exposure shots of the lightning. The shots below are what I got. The method is simple. Set the lens on manual focus and set it to "infinity focus". Next, set the exposure to "bulb" and attach the cable release. Then point and pray. I held the shutter open for about 8 seconds or until a strike occured. Repeat until done. I probably took a couple hundred frames, but only a few were open when the bolts were striking.

I found this photo in my Canon 20D after the first page was published. This was a big, big bolt that struck 7 WTC.

Looping bolt.

A small strike.

Another small strike.

Ground strike off the left of the frame lights the sky.

Small strike on the right.

Small sky bolt at the upper left.

A bigger view of the best strike. Note the haze on the left.

I was way lucky to get some of these shots. Plus, I have a most awesome camera that has great noise reduction. The camera is a Canon 1DsMark II. All shots were taken on bulb setting, with exposures manually set at about an "eight count" or until a bolt was seen. Lens is a Canon 28-300 set to manual focus and f11.

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