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Behind an epic Arizona lightning photo: ‘I saw it and lost my mind’

Lightning over Arizona’s Superstitions mountains, 12:50 a.m. local time, July 3, 2015. ( <a href="">Mike Olbinski Photography</a> )

Mike Olbinski is one of the premier storm photographers in the Desert Southwest. His portfolio features mind-blowing images of menacing dust storms, other worldly cloud formations and vivid lightning bolts.

But last Friday, he captured a lightning scene so brilliant, so shocking, and so serendipitous, that he says it outclasses any other photo he’s taken in his 6-year career.

“It’s the single best capture of my life,” Olbinski said in an email.

Olbinski photographed the explosive scene facing Arizona’s Superstition mountains. It’s a spot where photographers frequently flock for dramatic views of mother nature’s handiwork. “I’ve been wanting to get a lightning photo right here for quite awhile, but had no idea I’d end up with maybe one of the best ones ever taken there,” he said.

On his Facebook page, Olbinski explained how he got the quadruple bolt shot, which is from a single exposure:

Thursday night around 10:30 p.m., I was about to put my head on my pillow and crash. But I took one last look at the radar before I did and the storms over the Superstitions were getting bigger and I knew I’d regret it if the lightning rolled into town.
I was tired, I had to get up at 6:15 a.m. to drive to Pine for a shoot, but hey…it’s lightning. Gotta go. I made it out there a bit after 11 p.m. The strikes were way back in the mountains and pretty weak for awhile. I started shooting west until the bolts began to look better over this iconic mountain range.
At 12:50 a.m…the heavens opened up and four incredible bolts exploded from the sky and rained down like I’ve never seen before. This is a single, 10-second exposure. No stacking.

After he first laid eyes on the photo,  Olbinski said: “I saw it and lost my mind . . . All the work, the miles, the sleep-deprivation…it all pays off with shots like these.”

More from Mike Olbinski on CWG:

Watch breathtaking ‘Monsoon’ time-lapse from Southwest

15 spectacular supercell thunderstorms (PHOTOS)