Lightning strikes the Grand Canyon.

Monsoon at the Grand Canyon

The magic of the monsoon season at the Grand Canyon is something that has to be experienced first-hand to truly appreciate. The normally dry desert air becomes moist with humidity, the temperature drops, and the atmosphere fills with electricity. Storms seem to build-up out of nowhere and then unleash a fury of wind, rain and lightning. They pass over the canyon and then are carried away over the surrounding deserts and forests of northern Arizona.

This image, titled Fury, is available as a fine art print on traditional photographic paper and as a Luxe acrylic print.

Photographer’s Notes

I grew up in the plains of the Midwest in eastern Iowa, and I have seen my share of intense thunderstorms, but this storm at the Grand Canyon is one of the most incredible that I have ever experienced. For over an hour, I took shelter below an overhanging rock as I photographed this storm as lightning struck the rim of the Grand Canyon and surrounding desert.

This image was the result of an idea I had to show how much lightning can strike the Grand Canyon in a short period of time in order to illustrate the intensity of the storm. It was both a technical and artistic challenge to create it.

I had considered shooting a very long exposure of 10 plus minutes, leaving the shutter open to capture any lightning bolts that would strike, but I would have to work after dark and shoot at a very high ISO which would have created a very noisy (the digital equivalent of film grain) image that would not print well. I chose instead to use a newer technique of capturing numerous images with a shorter 30-second exposure and then “stacking” them in post-production. This same technique is employed by photographers creating star-trails. For this photo I stacked 20+ images captured over a period of 15-minutes. The gear used was a Canon 5D Mark III and 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens.