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The Hand of Zeus

5,449 MEGAPIXELS
A close-up of "The Hand of Zeus" by Dan Piech: an ultra-high-resolution VAST photo.
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5,449 megapixels! The highest definition VAST photo of a lightning bolt strike from a thunderstorm over the Hudson River and Tribeca Pointe in the Battery Park City neighborhood of New York City; created by Dan Piech
At 5:11pm on July 25, 2016, New York City witnessed one of the most impressive lightning strikes ever photographed. An enormous bolt rocked Downtown Manhattan and Jersey City, completely spanning the Hudson River - and I had my camera set up to capture it.

It was a sweltering day at the height of summer and a thunderstorm was quickly approaching from the west, spreading an oil-slick of darkness in front of it. I've photographed countless storms, but as this particular one roared in from a distance, I knew it was going to be special. A beautiful wall cloud was quickly advancing in front of the rain curtain, electrifying the sky with cloud-to-ground lightning.

Brimming with excitement, I perched myself high up on a building in downtown Manhattan. The air, still thick with the smell of a sunny summer afternoon, was eerily calm as I set up my gear and began exposing images, hoping to capture one of these strikes branching out in front of the rain. Being exposed and elevated hundreds of feet outside with my camera wasn't the safest idea, but it was a risk I was willing to take.

Suddenly, an enormous bolt pierced the sky with a sound so deafening that my ears were ringing despite the hearing protection I had on. An incredible number of stepped leaders raced toward the ground, one of them connecting with a large metasequoia tree in Battery Park City, instantly exploding all 80 feet of it into thousands of pieces. Another one of the leaders crossed to the New Jersey side of the river and connected with a luxury high-rise not too dissimilar to the one that I was on.

For an instant, New York and New Jersey were joined by one of the most powerful forces in nature. It was a beautiful and humbling moment of sheer power.

I’ve spent over a decade chasing thunderstorms, exposing tens of thousands of images along the way, and coming closer than I’d like to being struck more times than I’d like to admit. Almost always, these occasions fail to yield any photographs worthy enough to show for the effort. The public is never privy to these empty harvests and the toll they take. However, as an obsessive photographer, I've continued to head out into storms time after time, undeterred, all in the hope of eventually having the good fortune to be granted an awe-inspiring moment like this.

You may be wondering how I created this exceptionally high resolution VAST photo. I spent hundreds of hours over the course of a year meticulously transforming the original 40-megapixel single-exposure photo into this 5,449-megapixel VAST photo that identically mimics the original.

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View the original single-exposure image  
Date & TimeJuly 25, 2016:  5:11pm
LocationNew York City
Coordinates40.719276, -74.012121
Focal Length300mm
Aperturef/22
Shutter Speed10 sec
ISO100
Number of Exposures111

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Print only

Our photographic prints are created using a specialty, large-format fine art printer designed to produce archival, museum-grade prints. They are true "chromogenic" prints: light-sensitive paper exposed in a darkroom using state-of-the-art lasers to produce the sharpest possible image. Click on the icons below to learn more or click here to explore further.

Our photographic prints are available in one of two finishes: glossy and lustre. Glossy prints have a rich, silky saturation and are great for environments where the lighting and reflections have been carefully thought through. Lustre prints have a bright, sparkle-like finish that diffuses reflections and are therefore more versatile for environments where the lighting and reflections are less under your control.

Your print comes with two certificates of authenticity hand-signed by the artist and the printmaker: one that you will affix to the finished piece and one that remains standalone. Additionally, your print's provenance is tracked and verified using state-of-the-art digital technology. Learn more.

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Acrylic glass display

Our acrylic glass displays are ready-to-hang works of art that contain one of our photographic prints sealed between flame-polished acrylic glass and an aluminum backing. A hidden mounting brace on the rear causes the display to gracefully "float" off the wall for a sleek, modern frameless look that complements nearly any decor style. Click on the icons below to learn more or click here to explore further.

Certificate of authenticity  
with artist signature
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Mounting brace floats the display
off the wall by 1 inch
Metal back
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Digital file

Purchase a rights-managed license to use this photo file. A license provides you with the full resolution digital image file and a permit to use it for a specific project. Use the form below to begin the licensing process or click here to learn more.

Total Pixels5,448,801,513
Horizontal Pixels89,889
Vertical Pixels60,617
Aspect Ratio1.48 : 1
File Size31,136 MB
Width @ 300ppi (perfect)24.97 feet
Height @ 300ppi16.84 feet
Width @ 150ppi (near-perfect)49.94 feet
Height @ 150ppi33.68 feet

Date & TimeJuly 25, 2016:  5:11pm
LocationNew York City
Coordinates40.719276, -74.012121
Focal Length300mm
Aperturef/22
Shutter Speed10 sec
ISO100
Number of Exposures111

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