Thursday, May 21, 2009

Video | A long-exposure lightning photo in the making

A grab from one of about 20 frames that make up a video sequence showing three lightning strikes. It all lasted less about 5/6 of a second.

After starting the video, click the "HD" button in the right corner (so it's red) to watch in high definition. Please wait for it to fully load.

I've discovered that filming lightning is incredibly difficult. The high contrast cannot be captured very well, even with my high-definition camera. (I have been, however, shooting with a wide aperture. If I stop it down a bit, I might be more successful.)

Night 2 of lightning fest (2)The sequence in this video, though, shows up better than many of the strikes I recorded early Thursday morning. It also contains the bolts that were captured in this photo (left).

To show exactly what made up the photo, I slowed the action from 5/6 of second - the time it took for all of the lightning strikes - and spread it over about 20 seconds. The exposure on the digital camera was 6.1 seconds long. The first 5 seconds of that happened before the strikes. I closed the shutter immediately after.

The audio in the video, by the way, is 29 seconds of real-time sound from around the time of the strikes.

One feature you can see in the video is a long bolt that parallels the Indian River, stretching from right to left. That only faintly appears in the still image.

Be sure to watch this in high definition. With such graininess caused by a wide-open aperture and little light, the standard version is too pixel-ridden to truly appreciate.

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