Insane Close Up Photo of Lightning Strike in Texas

Insane Close Up Photo of Lightning Strike in Texas

Here in 2015, everyone and their grandmother has a smartphone with a camera. Subsequently, almost every interesting second of life on Earth is, for the most part, captured digitally on said devices, or so it would seem. Every now and then, it takes more than dumb luck to catch a one-in-a-million snap of something seldom seen close up. In the case of professional stormchaser Hank Schyma, this lightning strike near downtown Houston was a project 20 years in the making.

Let's be clear, people can and often capture bonkers weather phenomena by chance, but it takes a dedication and skillful knowledge of weather systems to know when your chances are at their peak. This is precisely when Hank Schyma sets up the video and photo cameras, usually after a Cannonball Run style trek to tornado alley or other weather hotspots around the U.S. He couples these catastrophic weather shoots with venomous and otherwise dangerous wildlife run-ins. In short, my life is something on the order of 3% as exciting as his, which is why I subscribe to his YouTube channel, and so should you.

​On the morning of August 20, 2015, Schyma was up and waiting. He knew what Mother Nature was up to, and foresaw some potential for epic photography in the making. He didn't go into the shot attempt with copious amounts of faith, as he has tried for such a shot for nearly 20 years and never quite had the timing right, but he also could read the weather and knew it was more than worth setting up the gear. Hastily setting up a possible capture, it didn't take long for the Texas climate to answer the call.

At exactly 8:30am, the angry Texas storm decided to slap the snot out of what appears to be someone's backyard, and within a few meters from automobiles (with humans in them) waiting at a traffic light. The bolt was so intense, Schyma says he couldn't see clearly for 5 minutes after witnessing it.

Click to enlarge.

I'm sorry, but let's look at that again a little closer.


No, but really.

The odd part is that Schyma wasn't chasing this morning, not in the conventional sense. He was waiting in ambush mode to see if anything amazing would happen, and sure enough, Thor showed up in Houston, in someone's backyard, near an intersection during rush hour on a dreary and dark summer morning in south Texas.

By capturing images that the rest of us wouldn't be caught dead doing, Schyma has built a successful stormchasing operation with his footage and photos finding themselves regularly on The Discovery Channel, National Geographic and, of course, The Weather Channel. His passion for his work never ceases to amaze me, and photographers like Schyma prove that stormchasing isn't just wanton adrenaline attacks; make no mistake, this is an art form. Just one that can get you killed, is all.

Behold some of Schyma's breathtaking storm photos and footage below, and check out his YouTube Channel and his website.

Yeah, uh, no thanks, Hank. You're on your own on these excursions. But, please don't stop doing them. 

[All images copyright Hank Schyma / Pecos Hank, and used with permission]

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8 Comments

Nino, thanks for the write-up.

That is the best lightning shot that I've ever seen! I am just in awe of how powerful it looks.

Lee Morris's picture

That's some scary stuff

That's some amazing photography right there! Sort of makes me happy that I'm an ocean away though :-P

Looks like the photo is from the parking garage of the Edwards Cinema on Weslayan. The unfortunate tree is in the back yard of the house which backs up to the BBVA Compass bank directly across the street from Costco.

Ouch.

Release DOROTHY! (Twister 196)

I was photographing lighting over the Bath, UK when this monster hit. The other photos I was getting looked great at regular exposure and I had to drop this image about 4 stops in Lightroom to recover this much from the RAW. I must have caught one of the smaller points of this bolt in my umbrella as it quite painfully caused my arm to contract. Safe to safe you should never use an umbrella when trying to photograph a storm.

Wouter Oud's picture

Those are some nice pictures and videos, but where do I find the "Insane Close Up" from the title?

Nino Batista's picture

The internet is wrought with literally thousands of photos of lightning strikes that occurred just 1-2 meters away from the camera (some less than 15cm), but we tried to pawn this one off as "close up" in hopes of garnering views from suckers on the web.