Photograph shows a long-exposure shot of lightning striking a tree.
Some of the most spectacular images of natural phenomena in the annals of photography are long-exposure shots of lightning, such as this example reportedly captured by art photographer Amery Carlson during a lightning storm off the coast of Ventura, California:
A similar eye-catching image has been widely reposted on the Internet with captions identifying it as a “Long Exposure Picture of a Lightning Bolt Hitting a Tree,” supposedly a sensational capturing of lightning striking a tree and producing an amazingly colorful result:
However, this image is actually an artistic work (a form of light painting) created from a composite of two different photographs, as the creator of this image, Darren Pearson of dariustwin.com, told us:
The original photo was posted to flickr on March 20th, 2010. It is not real, it’s a composite of two photographs: One is mine (a photo of a tree taken at the Presidio in San Diego, CA) and the other is from the NOAA webpage:
My image is a long exposure, 619 seconds, taken at night. During this time, I used ‘el wire’ to create the blue smoke-looking effect, and a color-gelled spotlight to give the tree a pink glow.
The lightning bolt was an idea that my roommate Joey (also a photographer/filmmaker) had while I was processing the photo. He mentioned, “You know what would be incredible? A lightning bolt striking the tree!” I was amused by this idea, and added in the lightning, which I thought looked awesome!
I never intended it to be taken for a real photo of lightning striking a tree. It was meant to be an artistic expression, but turned into an internet misinformation fiasco.
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.