Wednesday, May 2, 2012

That's close enough

Lightning illuminates a thunderstorm somewhere in the Midwest. 

A little over two hours into my flight back home from attending GIG I noticed a light flash on the left wing. I assumed it was a light beacon on the aircraft. But when I saw the flash again I looked past the left wingtip and saw a large thunderstorm with lightning flashing within. I took a few cell phone pictures but wasn't happy with any of them. So I dug my Nikon out of its bag, attached the 50mm lens on it, and snapped a few more pictures as the storm moved past the wingtip.

This was total luck. I took a guess when another bolt of lightning might appear. It's a long hand-held exposure (around 1/2 second ) so when the picture is viewed at 100% the bolt is smeared (the orange blur at the bottom-left of the second picture is of a passenger behind me reading a book). But considering I'd never gotten a really good picture of lightning before, this will work for me.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8; camera chose shutter speed of 1/2 second (top) and 0.7 second (bottom) at ISO 1000; spot-metered; auto white balance; normal JPG.)


  1. That's an incredible shot! No doubt it's way better than anything I could get. I'm betting it was a little scary to ride through, but it still seems like a lucky shot (since you've obviously landed safely)!

  2. the ride was pretty smooth, actually. even so, i couldn't hold the camera as steady as i wished. but it's not bad for a half-second exposure. i'd like to get other weather-related photos, including a tornado.

  3. Hand-held 1/2 sec exposure from a plane going about 500 mph. I think that is a great pic.

  4. That is an awesome shot Steve!