Perfectly Timed Photos Reveal Just How Intensely Bright a Lightning Strike Is

Photo by Matt Taylor

Using the Panasonic Lumix G7's 4K photo mode which captures still shots at up to 30 frames per second, photographer Matt Taylor captured remarkable before and after night photos revealing just how bright the light generated by a nearby lightning strike can be.

Photo by Matt Taylor
Photo by Matt Taylor

Matt estimates the lightning bolt struck about one or two miles south of where he was standing, which meant it was well out of frame to the left of this shot. But given the complete lack of shadows from the dock posts and the folding chair, the blast of illumination looks like it was even brighter than what the sun sends our way.


There are a few things we can learn from this neat photo-op. 1) Mother Nature can still far outperform even your most expensive camera gear, she’s just not quite as predictable or reliable. 2) Don’t forget to slather on the SPF 5,000 sunblock the next time you get caught in a storm. 3) It’s probably a good idea to get somewhere safe when storm clouds roll in, even if you forgot to bring your camera’s external flash.

[Matt Taylor via PetaPixel]

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The lack of shadows says nothing about brightness. What it does show is that the light is very diffuse; the lightning is behind the clouds, and lighting up the entire sky pretty uniformly. Also I very much doubt that is brighter than the sun; if you’ve ever shot a camera in manual and forgot to adjust it after shooting in a dimly lit room or at dusk like in the first picture, you’ll know that a brightly lit day scene would be almost completely overexposed and white.