May 26, 2008 Beijing, China Lightning

by John Farley

I was out of the storm chase picture for much of May due to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a university-sponsored tour of China led by a former resident of Beijing. However, I did not totally miss out on spring storms during the trip, as a line of storms moved over Beijing the evening of May 26 ahead of a rather strong cold front. There was quite a bit of lighting, so I decided to set the camera on a couple books on the window sill, with the lens resting on the window frame, and see what I could get. And lo and behold, a CG came zapping down 1/4 mile away on my very first try!

It is not my best lightning shot by any means, but it's not bad, considering that I was shooting through the window, fairly heavy rain, and rather dense haze/smog. And it's certainly the farthest from home that I have ever been able to capture lighting!

The building with the curved roof just behind the lightning is the south train station in Beijing (one of several busy train stations in the city). The lighting either hit the edge of the station closest to me or very near it. Here is a more cropped shot:

And here's one with a little correction for the effects of the window I was shooting through and the smog:

For about 5 minutes after the bolt hit, there were a number of brief flashes from a power line in the neighborhood, which ended with a shower of sparks. The power stayed on, though.

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