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Lightning Strikes the Empire State Building

Empire State Building Lightning Strike

Lightning strikes the ESB

Over the last few weeks I have spent some time trying to capture images of lightning over the New York City skyline. Those who have tried this know that it is a hit or miss proposition. You watch the weather forecast, try to put yourself in the best (safe) position to capture the image you want, and then wait and see what develops.

On Thursday, the weather forecast looked favorable for thunderstorms in the evening, so I headed to a good location with a few other photographers. During the most active part of the lightning strikes, I was focusing on some wide shots which included a nice expanse of the sky to capture strikes over the skyline.

After capturing a number of wide views, I decided to try a lower probability shot of capturing lightning in the sky somewhere behind the Empire State Building. I changed to a longer lens, changed to vertical orientation, zoomed in on a tighter shot of the building, and hoped for the best.

After less than 10 minutes, I got a great surprise when there was a lightning bolt that appeared to strike directly behind the Empire State Building. Only after checking my preview screen did I realize that the strike actually hit the antenna on top of the building! The image that I captured appears below, along with a few other images of lightning over the New York City skyline.

Lightning strikes the antenna on the top of the Empire State Building in New York City during a summer thunderstorm on Thursday, July 26, 2012. The Empire State Building, which is struck by lightning an average of just under 100 times annually, was illuminated in colors of various nations in celebration of the 2012 London Olympics. Prints of this image (including a black & white version) are available on Fine Art America.

A large cloud to ground forked lightning bolt strikes the ground in New York City during a summer thunderstorm on Thursday, July 26, 2012. Prints of this image (including a black & white version) are available on Fine Art America.

Lightning bolts illuminate the night sky behind the skyline of New York City during a summer thunderstorm on Sunday, July 15, 2012. Prints of this image (including a black & white version) are available on Fine Art America.

Lightning bolts illuminate the night sky over the upper west side skyline of New York City during a summer thunderstorm on Sunday, July 15, 2012. Prints of this image (including a black & white version) are available on Fine Art America.

Click on the photos above for more information on the specific licensing/purchase options available or click here to see more images of lightning.

All images © Clarence Holmes


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  • Susan Candelario

    Hi Clarence, 
    Great NYC lightning images and blog post. The strike on the Empire State Building is over the top. Perfect timing on your part. 
    ~Susan

    • http://www.clarenceholmesphotography.com Clarence Holmes

      Susan, thanks for the compliment. The shot of the Empire State Building turned out well.

  • http://www.clarenceholmesphotography.com Clarence Holmes

    Thanks, it was good meeting you as well.