Golden Gate Photo - Lightning Gallery
Fine Art Photography of Lightning.

Lightning is the natural rapid and concentrated discharge of electricity in the atmosphere. It typically accompanies (and defines) thunderstorms, cells of unstable air where rising and falling gusts of wind result in condensation and freezing of water vapor and the stratification of the atmosphere into zones of positive and negative electrical charges. The upper part of the thundercloud obtains a positive charge while the lower part becomes negatively charged. The electrical potential this creates within the cloud and between the cloud and ground can grow to millions of volts. Invisible feeders, in zigzagging segments, begin to channel the charge from one zone to another until, when one meets, there is an electrical discharge in the form of lightning. Each lightning flash is a series of strokes. The discharge begins at the point where the feeders meet (typically close to the ground for cloud-to-ground strikes) and works its way back through each feeder segment. On average, each lightning stroke lasts about 30 microseconds.

Golden Gate Lightning Strike

Golden Gate Lightning Strike

For the full story on this once-in-a lifetime photo, go here.

Print No. A98-12-9

More images of the Golden Gate Bridge

Horizontal Lightning

Horizontal Lightning, Black Hills, Arizona

During this wicked summer monsoon storm just south of Sedona, Arizona, this bolt crawled along the base of the clouds. Basically, this is a low-level cloud-to-cloud strike, sometimes referred to as spider lightning.

Print No. B96-14

Lightning and Fire

Lightning and Fire, White Hills, Arizona

This eastward time exposure from Highway 93 between Kingman, Arizona and Hoover Dam reveals a ripping thunderstorm and the brush fires it generated.

Print No. B94-4

Lightning and Fog

Lightning and Fog, Carquinez Straits, California

This unusual combination of phenomena occurred during the early morning hours of September 3, 2003. A rare influx of southwestern U.S. monsoonal moisture sparked thundershowers in the inland portions of the San Francisco Bay area, while at the same time, the more typical summer influx of cool, moist Pacific air was drawing fog through the low-lying passages around the Golden Gate. Here at the Carquinez Straits, the Pacific fog, illuminated by the lights of oil refineries along the straits, flows under the warm, monsoon air and is seemingly pierced by the lightning from the unstable air above.

Print No. A03-36-12

Lightning in Perspective

San Francisco Storm of September 8, 1999

Following the demise of a tropical storm off the coast of Baja California, remnants of the storm drifted northward and made landfall just off the coast of Central California. The result was the biggest lightning show the Bay Area has seen in at least 15 years.

Multiple Complex Strokes

San Francisco Storm of September 24, 2001

Just when you think it might be another 15 years before seeing a storm like the one above in the San Francisco Bay Area, a strong cold front out of the Gulf of Alaska mixes up with moisture from a subtropical flow, resulted in another great light show.

Lightning over Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

Lightning over Las Vegas

Born of the southwest monsoon moisture, the storms light up the summer sky. A separate page is dedicated to bolts in the Las Vegas sky.


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