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Spectacular & Mysterious Lightning, Part 1


"QUANTUM SHOT" #178(rev)
Link - article by Avi Abrams




Visually exhilarating collection of heavenly unrest and hair-raising electrical storms

Lightning possesses a mystery, an "electrifying" enchantment all around it (pun intended), drawing attention and imagination of scientists, artists, writers, photographers and simple curiosity-stricken folks for ages, without fail - all because we consider the notion of electricity flowing freely through the air extremely threatening (after all, it comes with a stupefying, thunderous impact and deadly power) and maybe somewhat similar to magic (if one forgets "wireless transmission of electrical power" experiments done by Nikola Tesla). The charged air of a lightning storm freezes us in our tracks and causes us to look to heavens with worry, humility and deep spiritual unrest. Somehow we know that lightning is going to happen, like'em or not, and we don't have any say in the matter.

What's more, lightning bolts are wild and untamed in how they propagate and where they strike (forget about lab-produced electric discharges, they do not have the same overwhelming effect on the senses) - and can occur catastrophically, unleashing their havoc and profound changes on the world; all this while following the "path of least resistance" through the air and water particles, choosing the most natural, the easiest and perhaps the most inevitable way to yield its stupefying power.


(images credit: Ben Bishop, Bernd W. Schüttke, Sam Javanrouh)


Most visually effective lightning tend to occur over city skylines and other urban environments (various skylines featured in this article belong to Toronto, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore). There is an added drama in superimposing the "magical" essence of wild nature over the ordered, predictable world of our making... plus there is the added element of danger: lightning might strike a building or wreak havoc on the city's energy grid:


(images credit: Roger Taylor, Dark Matter)


Lightning over expanses of water creates the most dramatic reflections and afterimages, which may even last longer than usual, dancing on the waves, refracted in the mist... -



(images credit: Sergio, Louis Vest)


Lightning superimposed over the sunset and various twilight hues are a boon to photographers everywhere:


(originals unknown)


Other backdrops to this hair-raising heavenly unrest include the Arizona desert, Bryce Canyon, Baltic Sea, Madeira island, Kakadu National park in Australia, or just a nameless field in Wilmington, North Carolina - in every case, the display of electrical storm lights is both humbling and exhilarating:


(originals unknown, bottom right image: Miguel Montesinos)


A thunderstorm is a living entity (to my mind). It moves stealthily at first, gathering strength and subtly accumulating the charges - as cumulonimbus clouds build up in height, particles with positive electrical charge rise up to the cloud's top, while the negatively charged particles sink to the bottom, causing the ground below to get positively charged in return.


(originals unknown)


This interplay of charges can be felt in the air as storm develops, and as the positively charged area of the ground follows the storm, drifting after it like a shadow...




Once the charge limit is reached - BAM! - the electrons would follow the easiest path to the ground, and a spark of lightning would branch into an ephemeral, glowing, deadly tree (appropriately called "forked" lightning) taking root down below - or stretch towards charged areas inside other clouds without reaching the ground, thus producing "sheet" lightning of immense beauty and power:


(images from "A History of Lightning" By John S. Friedman, via)


Lightning strikes heat the surrounding air up to 30,000 degrees Celsius - such an amazing transfer of energy happens in less than a second, so that the air itself cannot bear it, and it explodes catastrophically - and it is the sound of this exposure that we call "thunder":


(photo taken in Sinop, Turkey, via)


When lightning strikes a highly charged electrical line, weird sparkling effects can occur, which are "beyond spectacular":


(image credit: PhotoDiod)


The photo above has been taken in Omsk, Russia (as somebody commented, "now they should call it "Ohms(k)", Russia"). Here are a couple more dramatic lightning strikes seen in Russia (even a church does not seem to be immune to such strikes):




Thunder and lightning captured from Garajau (Madeira, Portugal):


(picture taken by Rob Dekker from the Netherlands, via)


Incredible display of lightning over the San Francisco Bay Bridge - see bigger:


(image credit: North News & pictures, via)


Multiple exposures of lightnings strikes: the more the merrier!


(image credit: David, Dark Matter Photography)


Here is the description of following image from photographer Chris Kotsiopoulos: "Fire in the sky! This is an image sequence containing 70 lightning shots, taken on Ikaría island, Greece, during a severe thunderstorm that took place June 16, 2011. In order to make the sequence, I set the camera to a tripod taking 20-second shots. After 83 minutes I ended up with this wall of lightning!"


(image credit: Chris Kotsiopoulos, National Geographic)


This particular storm over the beach in Florida produced plenty of lightning, gracing the photographer's gallery with these spectacular testaments to power of nature:


(images credit: Galen Burow Photography, via)


(image credit: John Mueller)


Lightning displays accompanying an eruption of a volcano achieve that added degree of insane catastrophic (or at least visual) power that is rarely observed but highly treasured by photographers:


(Lightning strikes over the Puyehue volcano, Chile - AP Photo/The Telegraph Herald, Dave Kettering)


These "Angel Sparks" graced a similarly named CD album cover, but there are no angels in this picture (or, are there?). These crazy electrical discharges are associated with the 1963 eruption of a submarine volcano that created the Surtsey Island in Iceland:




(images via 1, 2)


Lightning over Las Vegas have this added "well, that good old "Sin City" finally gets what was coming to it" self-righteous effect:


(image via)


"Fantasy lightning strikes" are in a category by itself, a favorite among fantasy artists for creation of epic atmospheric landscapes and wild action:


(art by Guiseppe Parisi)


There are no visible lightning in this picture but the atmosphere is supercharged with tension - and I bet there are lightning flashes in this girl's heart:


(art by Guiseppe Parisi)

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.
Category {642} Lightnings


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