View Full Version : When Lightning Strikes Too Closely

Shawn Marques
08-22-2008, 12:29 PM
What you are looking at is lightning bolt nearly striking my wife, Amy (and myself). The main bolt was estimated at striking the ground about 60 feet away from us, with a smaller finger bolt coming between us. I was about 12 feet behind Amy taking the image.

There was a nice, distant heat lightning show going on that evening and so we decided to take a ride to a desolate area where there was a minimum of artificial lighting, to experiment with capturing the light show with long exposures. It was pitch dark outside and a flashlight was used to focus the camera on Amy. This 30 second exposure image was actually the last we planned on taking for the night when suddenly an excruciatingly loud and blinding bolt of lightning struck nearby. I grabbed the camera and we high-tailed it to the car.

I did not expect this image to come out because I moved the camera without thinking of whether or not the 30 second exposure was completed. But to our surprise, the image came out very well, despite the over-exposed areas caused by the lightning. The bolt must have hit just at the end of the 30 seconds. Without this image as evidence, we would have never known how close it came to hitting us and how extremely lucky we are to be here today. BTW, we did not feel a thing! Nor did we hear any other bolts occur before this one came along. ;)

Does anyone find this image marketable and any suggestions on who to contact?

Canon EF17-40mm f/4L USM on Canon 40D
ISO 500, 30s @ f/5.6
Manfrotto tripod with Monfrotto head
Taken late evening in Port St. Lucie, FL

Michael Pancier
08-22-2008, 01:50 PM
definitely is newsworthy ... wow ... you can't get too close to that stuff. thank God you guys are ok.

Robert Amoruso
08-22-2008, 02:57 PM
Jeez, your guys are lucky. :eek: Very cool image.

Only if you could have gotten a better RoT comp. ;)

Grady Weed
08-22-2008, 06:38 PM
That's way too close!

Roman Kurywczak
08-22-2008, 06:56 PM
Hey Shawn,
Wow! You guys are very lucky indeed. Glad to see you were both OK. Cool concept using her as a compositional element along with the road. The white may have overpowered the image.....but still wild........especially the smaller finger. Definitely makes me think!

Judd Patterson
08-23-2008, 01:43 AM
A completely wild image...so glad you and your wife are ok. When a lighting bolt strikes, the ground up to around 150 feet around the bolt usually conducts enough electricity to cause a hefty (and sometimes deady) jolt. You are indeed quite lucky that you didn't feel anything. Stay safe out there!

Arthur Morris
08-23-2008, 03:10 PM
Amazing! Did your wife bolt up from the chair in the next instant?

Amy DeStefanis
08-23-2008, 07:22 PM
Wow Shawn,

This is an amazing image.... Maybe a plastic lawn chair next time...????

The most striking (no pun intended) thing to me is the great paradox of her relaxed, almost sleepy pose in the chair, versus the sudden brightness of the lightening - knowing that in the next instant, everything had changed. It tells the story in a really vivid way.

You might try your local weather channel - they usually ake submissions, but I don't know if that would be considered "marketing" it.

Good luck - I know it was a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime shot!

Amy D.

Bob Ettinger
08-24-2008, 08:11 AM
Happy to hear that you both are fine, way toooo close. As previously posted, the white might be overpowering.

Kaushik Balakumar
08-24-2008, 11:47 AM
Wow, liked the image a lot. Personally, I don't mind the whites here - they are meant to look 'blown'. And this image is kind of different. TFS. But as others said, please take care while shooting such scenes.

08-24-2008, 09:22 PM
This is a real story teller,
I had a simular experience from photographing a close strike and can appreciate the magnitude of this image.
I bet that your heart was pumping from this one...

Shawn Marques
08-25-2008, 08:24 AM
Next time, I'll make sure I raise the shutter speed to compensate for the bright exposure. NOT! :D

Fabs Forns
08-27-2008, 11:30 AM
Wow, really a scary experience, but the image is terrific!!!

Michael Lloyd
10-12-2008, 07:09 PM
Whoa... :eek: marketable? Don't know. Repeatable? Not by me!

Now for the technical... I think you should have had a main light at camera left and set forward so that your wife is lit nicely. Set the main (and camera) to about a half to one stop over the lightning bolt's exposure. It might take a couple of tries but I think it's doable :cool: