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Extreme close-ups of lightning: at 1300mm
HD EXPEDITION VIDEO: Upward lightning at the WVAH tower, August 4
MORE INFO: About upward lightning to towers and skyscrapers
4 days after buying the new lens! A decaying but electrified MCS (meso-convective system) passed over the WVAH tower site Tuesday morning. I observed eight upward lightning discharges to the tower, several of which I captured extreme close-up images using a 1300mm telephoto lens (all shown here). I also ran HD video, but it was trashed by the wind shifting my umbrella shelter - which partially covered the video camera's field of view. I don't have enough hands and eyes to keep track of everything! This day though, I was more concerned with getting the 1300mm stills, so I'm more than happy with how the day went. Overall the storm was very cooperative, with little wind and no heavy rain - making it as easy as it could possibly be to keep the setup dry. This event brings the total number of discharges I've documented at this tower to 48 in 4 years!
This first photo is a wide-angle shot for reference, showing the size of the 1300mm frame. Ironically, I don't have a current wide-angle shot of the tower, this image was taken back in 2004 when the new tower has just been completed (the original collapsed due to icing in 2003). The smaller tower is the old WCHS mast that the new tower also replaced. I need to go and get a new reference photo sometime soon.
So what's next after this? The next step up in sharpness and/or zoom length involves lenses running about the ten thousand dollar range (using the Canon 800mm L with a teleconverter), so obviously I'll need to seek out some sponsorships/partnerships to make it happen. Stay tuned!
Click on any of the following images for larger versions.
This first image is a stack composite of six of the following frames:
Intense (high current) return stroke:
Explosion of sparks and smoke (first image shows decaying channel 'bead out' segment in upper left):
Return stroke details:
The decaying phase or 'bead out' stage of the lightning channel:
Notice the arcing and sparks at the bracket below the strobe lamp:
Sparks coming from the bracket base and the top conductor:
A problem with the long lens is that a slight bump moves the tower tip from the frame. This happened with the second discharge to the tower - however the lightning channel still made it into the frame:
A shot of the camera/shelter setup: