A Lightning Bolt Hits Water, So Close You Can See Its Streamers

A bolt of lightning, 40 metres away (©Francis Schaefers and Daniel Burger)
A bolt of lightning, 40 metres away (©Francis Schaefers and Daniel Burger)

It’s pictures like these that make me a) want to do more photography, b) feel more in awe of nature than I already am, and c) wonder how the photographer didn’t pack up his gear and run away screaming. But thank goodness the talented storm chasers didn’t run away, they actually witnessed a very rare event, up close.

This astounding image was shot by photographers Francis Schaefers and Daniel Burger when they were chasing a thunderstorm along a beach in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. Chasing a storm along a beach. The best bit of the SpaceWeather.com article comes right at the end, where it says that Schaefers and Burger took a series of shots from “underneath a balcony where they figured the lightning wouldn’t reach.”

Let me emphasise that last bit: underneath a balcony.

Balls of steel comes to mind. For me, nothing less than a reinforced bunker surrounded by lightning rods will do.

Related Lightning Articles:

Anyway, back to why this image is so fantastic. When lightning strikes the ground, if you are able to get the timing perfect, you might be able to capture ‘upward streamers’ rising from the ground to meet the leading edge of the bolt, as NASA lightning expert Richard Blakeslee explains:

Streamers reach upward from the water.
Streamers reach upward from the water.

In a typical cloud-to-ground lightning strike, as the leader approaches the ground, the large electric field at the leader tip induces these upward propagating streamers. The first one that connects to the downward propagating leader initiates the bright return stroke that we see with our eye. Upward streamers are often observed on photographs of lightning hitting the ground.”

It’s hard to imagine if this streamer phenomenon has been observed to reach out from water before, but this Dutch example must be very rare. It’s hard enough to photograph lightning streamers on solid ground, let alone on the surface of a body of water.

In case you weren’t already amazed, check out this shot. It’s called The Cruise You Don’t Want to Take for very obvious reasons:

The storm, plus cruise, ship off the coast of Vlissingen, the Netherlands (©Francis Schaefers and Daniel Burger)
The storm, plus cruise, ship off the coast of Vlissingen, the Netherlands (©Francis Schaefers and Daniel Burger)

Source: SpaceWeather.com

120 thoughts on “A Lightning Bolt Hits Water, So Close You Can See Its Streamers”

  1. Oh dear lord, I wonder what the people on that ship were thinking while that happened. I've always been fascinating with lightning. I remember growing up I used to stare out the window late at night watching thunderstorms while I should have been asleep. I've never seen pictures of lightning hitting the water before so this was a special post for me since the photos are simply amazing.

      1. And you suck at capitalization and punctuation skills. There are 2 periods at thee end of your comment, and I is always capitalized, extremely so whereas it is as the beginning of a sentence on your part. Checkmate.

      2. “You suck at capitalization and punctuation skills. There are two periods at the end of your comment, and “I” is always capitalized, especially when it is at the beginning of a sentence.”I fixed it. Maybe you should fix your own grammar before you tell other people off for theirs, especially when their comment was actually legitimate. Who says “where” instead of “were”?

      3. Fix your grammar too.It's “we're” not “were” when used in the context “We're gonna die”.

      4. You are all fucking retarded. If you read something and understand what it means, who gives a shit if there are mistakes in it?! This is the comments section of a fucking blog, not a novel.

      5. Agreed, this is funny. Nothing like reading an online fight over grammar to make my day. -_-

      6. This picture is awesome!And really? Do you all have nothing better to do than sit on a computer and argue with strangers? Everyone makes mistakes typing- move on with your life.

      7. “You suck at capitalization and punctuation skills. There are two periods at the end of your comment, and 'I' is always capitalized, especially when it is at the beginning of a sentence. Checkmate.””I fixed it. Maybe you should fix your own grammar before you tell other people off for theirs, especially when their comment was actually legitimate. Who says 'where' instead of 'we're'?”I fixed it. Maybe you should fix your quotation marks and apostrophes before you tell other people off for their unnecessary interests in other people's grammar, especially when their comment was actually legitimate. Who doesn't capitalize the the first letter in their sentences and the letter 'I' and ends their sentences with too many periods? Did I mention 'checkmate'?

      8. And all of you have messed up. You said “thee”, not “the”. “Thee” is old English for “you”, used at the beginning of sentences.

      9. There's nothing wrong with the spelling, it's the grammar that's the problem. It should be we're!

      10. That's an interesting argument…retard. Unfortunately it is a non sequitur, not to mention a false analogy. I love it when people argue that you shouldn't argue. Hypocrites. Cthulhu f'tagn!

      11. Casey Wollberg (sp?) is an effing douche. Just look at his mug shot. He looks like someone you'd see the jocks pounding on for no good reason in high school. But alas! Maybe they had good reason: he's a douche.

      12. Wow, you're clever. You must get that from me, your daddy. Now get back down in the basement, so your mother and I can have some privacy.

      13. Casey Wollberg, you sir are dumb. Non-sequitur means that what the person is saying doesn't follow and make sense from one sentence to the next. What he said does make sense, however crass it may be. And as for the false analogy bit, all he is doing is comparing two things. Not to mention your sentences don't even make sense, “Unfortunately it is a non sequitur, not to mention a false analogy”. Wow that was a failed attempt at trying to speak on two levels, first because its structured incorrectly, and second because the content of the sentence in question is completely incorrect! GOOD JOB

      14. Wow. Hey, son, try not to correct people who are more intelligent than you; you just end up exposing your own stupidity. The non-sequitur I was referring to goes like this: I don't know you, or anything about you, except that you argue on the internet, therefore you are retarded. It doesn't follow. That means it is a non sequitur. “And as for the false analogy bit, all he is doing is comparing two things.”Exactly. And he's making a false comparison, or, a false analogy. Are you in the special Olympics?

      15. He wasn't arguing, he was pointing out the futility of arguing on the net, there's zero hypocrisy. It's also not a non sequiter, they don't make sense, his does which is why it's funny. You in fact made yourself the retard, because you engaged in argument and you tried to sound clever using flash terminology but had no idea what it meant. Classic thread where one guy comment on spelling, himself messing up, the said person tries to correct the correcter, again making errors, then a smart-alec tries and fails too. 😀

      16. “He wasn't arguing, he was pointing out the futility of arguing on the net…”Maybe you should look up the definition of “argument.” Making a point=making an argument.”You in fact made yourself the retard, because you engaged in argument…”Arguing makes you retarded–there's the non sequitur again. That makes *you* illogical.”…and you tried to sound clever using flash terminology but had no idea what it meant.”The fact you think it's “flash terminology” speaks volumes. The fact you bleated along with your master sheep that I didn't know what it meant says a lot about you too. Why do I get the feeling I'm involved in a discourse with a bunch of 12 year olds? Probably because I am. Hey, but it was fun, kids. Now, run along and don't forget to do your homework.

      17. @ CuthuluCupsDude if you ever have an accident and ended up in a wheel chair, got yourself fit again and was competing in the special Olympics, and someone called you a Retard, I'm sure that at least One of your family would take offence.Or are they all like you gutless and ill-informed.

      18. Special Olympics are for people with functional disabilities (Downs, Autism, etc…). What you're thinking of is the Para-Olympics, the Olympic events that are for people who are not able bodied.

      19. Sod PC-ism. Disabled folks have a great sense of humour, who cares about people that feel embarrased on their behalf? That's just stooopid.

      20. I stumbled upon this, I thought because of the cool pictures, but it was obviously because of the awesome comments.

      21. hvorfor må alle prate engelsk, prat norsk for faen. svar på den du, din annalfabete idiot. engelsk/amrikansk suger.

      22. pwnage dur. Why do 12 year olds think they're so cool? And if you were all the hipsters you think you are, you'd know that “nerd” is a compliment now. Srsly, get with teh fekkin program, newbs.

    1. I've been on a boat with lightning striking within 10 feet…wasn't really scary at all, and I was only 10 at the time. Just really cool…

    1. There was a story on my local news program where lightning had struck sand about a year ago. They dug it up and revealed this massive (maybe 10ft) glass structure. It looked like a giant plant root! Had forgotten about that!

  2. And these awesome pictures are only a very small display of the force that shape universe: electricity; but science keep us in the dark age af Newton's and Einstein's false and outdated theories, check out http://www.thunderbolts.info which herald in the near future I hope, the unveiling of the real truth

  3. photographing lightning is v difficult and you do need balls of steel, but you dont necessarily need great timing esp when its dark and you can do longer exposure stuff. they're great photos but what bothers me is why there arent any lights on in either of the high rise buildings…

  4. Stunning photography. I suspect they had to take a lot of pictures before they were able to get the best settings for shutter speed and aperture.Any info on camera type, settings, etc.?

  5. Lightning is a bit like icebergs in that most of what is going on is not visible or apparent to the observer. High up – miles high – there are strange things going on that might even relate lightning to cosmic rays. There are all kinds of weird light-shows happening up there and we only see one part close to the surface. It seems we are still a long way from understanding it completely. However, it is easy to understand that nature is magnificent and powerful.

  6. I wonder how many fish were fried with this bolt “from the gods”? My Grandfather among others often went fishing, in rural Ohio (usa) by taking the hot wire of the interburan (Electric Street Car) and using a cable and some 2×4's placed the cable in the ponds next to the tracks. Then they touched the hot wire of the tracks, soon dinner came floating up, giving new meaning to the term fish fry. Just think before the automobile really got started and urban sprawl was in full swing we were already “green” and doing street cars in Central Ohio. Today the old Interburan tracks can still be found in spots and they used to connect Lancaster to Logan to Columbus .Today “millions” of cars do the same trip on the highway that nearly mirror the old Interurban route.

  7. I remember i used to sit at a little hill Watching the lightning when i was a kid. Once i watched the cloud many kilometers away, They were a bright orange, and the thunderbolts were so orange it was almost red.It has been one of the most beautiful phenomenons of nature that i have ever seen for my life…

  8. Considering that lightning strikes the earth a (satellite measured) average of 50 times per second, I'd say the even itself was not very rare at all, but the capturing of a photograph this good definitely was.

  9. Have any of you actually tried taking a picture of lightning? It requires you to expose the film for minutes. This blurs anything that moves. The ship isn't blurred at all. I doubt it would be perfectly still in a storm, and even if it was, it would have been moved by the currents.

  10. I had no idea that this was a rare event. I watched this very same thing at Onslow Beach on base at camp Lejeune. It was amazing to say the least. Where the lightning hit the water there was a sort of a half dome of light that I will never forget.

  11. notice the first photographer is under some kind of shed lol 🙂 so he didn't need to back up with his equipment 🙂 and i'd be more scared of swimming in that water after that night (dead fish floating everywhere).

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