New Mexico Adventure Weather Adventure

Lightning Photography is Love

There’s something about photographing lightning that will always keep me coming back.

Every strike is different. Every strike is random. Every strike is so exciting in its own way.

There are no moments more awe-inspiring than sitting near a storm and watching that sheer, raw power reach out of the sky and down to the earth. It’s thrilling and humbling.

A big, branched bolt reaches out of a powerful storm in central New Mexico.

Admittedly, I haven’t spent nearly enough time trying for lightning over the years, but the past few years — especially on my trips to the southwest — I’ve been able to really improve my technique.

It’s also great that I’ve worked on my time-lapse workflow some to really allow for some wide coverage on lightning shots.

Lightning from a heavy storm in Central New Mexico.

Every bolt is different. Every bolt is exciting.

An amazing branched bolt out of a rapidly strengthening storm near Stanley, New Mexico.

This year I’ve really been focusing on the wider view of the monsoon, so I’m typically getting ‘smaller’ bolts. But those types of shots are fun too, they add so much to a scene that might overwise be kinda pedestrian.

Lightning from a thunderstorm near Santa Fe, NM.

My hope is that I will continue to perfect some techniques but also take more risks to get the closer shots of bolts — some of these are easily done with a bit longer focal length — some I’ll need to think through in terms of physical distance to the storm.

There’s always more to learn when you are dealing with matters related to atmospheric instability.

A monsoon storm with several strikes in a concentrated area as the storm strengthens in the evening over central New Mexico.

I really can’t wait to get back out and shoot some more bolts this week.

This bolt stayed in the clouds, or did it?

By Raychel Sanner

I'm a trans photographer and filmmaker based in New Mexico. I love adventure and travel and exploring my state. I chase down incredible storms and skies. I advocate for good mental health and for my trans siblings.

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