With an interest in landscape, timelapse, and aerial photography, it’s only natural that Michael Shainblum would be attracted to lightning. While he has photographed the phenomenon on several occasions, his shot of an electrical storm illuminating San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is among his most personally rewarding pieces.
Why is this photo so important to Shainblum? On top of the fact that it freezes a striking moment in time, this photograph took several years to finally realize. “For the last 5 years I have attempted to get a shot like this,” he explains. “Each time failing and ending up with no images, going home cold, wet and discouraged. This was a night shooting that I will never forget.”
To capture this photo, Shainblum camped out in the Marin Headlands, a hilly peninsula across the Bay, on a particularly stormy evening. Once the lightning started to strike, he stayed for three hours, using a dust blower to wipe the rain from his lens in order to get shot after shot. Finally, when he was satisfied with his selection, he went home and consolidated his photographs into one awe-inspiring timelapse photograph.
In addition to this series of images, Shainblum also captured close-up shots of the bridge’s towers and a stunning seascape—all of which would not exist had Shainblum decided to abandon ship. “Sitting out in the rain for hours can be a little bit discouraging and there were multiple moments where I wanted to give up and leave,” he reveals. “I am glad I stuck it out to capture these incredible moments.”
For five years, photographer Michael Shainblum had hoped to get a photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge surrounded by lightning. Finally, in 2017, he got the shot—though, earlier in the evening, he had almost gone home when fog began to blanket the landmark.
However, a series of lightning bolts soon appeared around the monument, culminating in a collection of jaw-dropping photographs.
See the stop-motion sequence Shainblum used to craft his celebrated timelapse.
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