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Trending: Storm Chaser Captures Lightning at 1,000FPS

By David Schonauer   Wednesday October 9, 2019


Lightning is in the air.

We recently featured Chicago photographer Ian Wall’s picture of 45 lightning bolts over the city and Lake Michigan. Wall, who has earned an Instagram following with his shots of lightning strikes, told the Chicago Sun-Times he doesn’t take risks to get his pictures. Indeed, noted the newspaper, from his 11th-story apartment overlooking the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Wall has a perfect perch from which to view midwestern storms safely.

Today we spotlight a new three-and-a-half minute film from storm chaser Dustin Farrell, who has to work a little harder to shoot wild weather.

Farrell’s video, Transient 2, is a compilation of two years of storm chasing captured at 1,000 frames per second with a Phantom Flex 4K high-speed camera. For the new film, noted Liquid Squid, Farrell traveled some 35,000 miles (accumulating three speeding tickets along the way) and captured enough material to take up 30 terabytes of hard-drive space.

He then spent 300 hours editing and color-grading the footage.

“There’s no describing a film like this, you have to see it,” added PetaPixel. “So turn down the lights, put on your favorite pair of headphones, and click play for some 4K, 1,000fps storm chasing footage that’s incredible to behold.”

The new film is a followup to Farrell’s first storm-chasing video, Transient, which also wowed viewers with slow-motion footage and was named a Vimeo Staff Pick. In his description of the new film, Farrell notes that the Phantom Flex 4K must be “post-triggered” while shooting high speed, making it ideal for captured slow-motion footage of lightning “because the camera is always recording and rewriting to internal ram.”

“As soon as a bolt appears in my view finder I trigger the camera to save what has been stored in the ram,” writes Farrell. “Shooting at high frame rates requires a lot of light. Therefore, I mostly used my Zeiss Otus 28, 55, and 85mm lenses wide open at f/1.4.”

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