The Washington Post

Stacking anvil crawlers over Washington, D.C.

This image shows 22 lightning exposures stacked into a single frame. Anvil crawlers can be seen at the top of the frame and distant cloud-to-ground lightning strikes can be seen just above the horizon. This image represents about 45 minutes of lightning flashes during Thursday evening’s storm. A larger version of this image can be found here. (Kevin Ambrose)

Last year, I wrote a post about lightning stacking, a concept of stacking multiple lightning exposures into a single frame to show a time-lapse of a thunderstorm. After Thursday’s storm chase, I decided to stack some of my lightning photos together to check out the view.

The stacked image shows a web of anvil crawlers in the sky above Washington with distant cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in Fairfax County. The image is displayed above and it contains 22 lightning exposures taken over a 45 minute period.

Purists usually don’t care much for lightning stacks but I find them interesting to show the lightning distribution of a storm. In addition, lightning stacks illuminate the cloud structure of a thunderstorm quite well because each lightning flash illuminates a different portion of the thunderstorm. Stacking lightning flashes together is like having multiple flash bulbs hitting different areas of the sky.

I’d be interested to hear your opinion on lightning stacks. Is it informative, is it weather art, or is it just a photographic mess?


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