Photo Release: “The Heavens Awaken” by Dan Piech

A very high resolution, large-format VAST photo print of a lightning bolt strike from a thunderstorm in Jersey City, NJ over URL Harborside 1; created by Dan Piech

A 1,217-megapixel VAST photo

Jersey City, New Jersey
Most of us have become numb to the majestic power of a thunderstorm, barely batting an eye when the sky unleashes its most spectacular light show. We’ve forgotten how beautiful such a relatively common natural phenomenon is. The thunderstorm photography I set out to create is an attempt to remind us of how awe-inspiring and humbling our planet can be.

In the United States, most powerful weather fronts move from west to east, with the leading edge of a storm packing the biggest punch. Therefore, the best lightning photos are created while out ahead of the storm on the eastern side, in front of the advancing rain curtain that would otherwise obscure the view.

I was on high above the eastern bank of the Hudson River in New York City at midnight on this particular night when an enormous and highly-active front began to roll across New Jersey to my west. I was impressed with the incredible height and texture of the storm clouds that towered into the stratosphere. Of course, this magnificent display of cloud formations was only visible for fleeting moments when a bolt of lightning would illuminate it.

I worked furiously to prepare my gear and settings to capture a perfect exposure of this display. And, as luck would have it, shortly before the storm overtook me, a gorgeous bolt lept upwards high into the heavens above the Jersey City skyline. The breathtaking visual memory I have of that moment was thankfully captured by the camera and is now something that I can share with others.

Note: This is an upconverted VAST photo: it has been created to identically mimic the original single-exposure photo.

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