Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting – lightning interrupted
Like childhood expeditions into the dark wildness of the backyard where I might capture fireflies* in a jar, I now had my specimen—lightning—in a camera. Its image, a smart phone video file, was now a flash on my flash drive.
I replayed the clip several times, then used the pause button on my computer to screen-save a series of “lightning interrupted” still-shot samples from the sequence leading in and out of the “big burst”.
You may like to see the video clip now if you wish to “play along”.
Things got even more interesting as I handled the lightning at my monitor’s “dissection table” with video-editing scalpel in hand. I only wanted to crop the final two seconds from the clip.
The software allowed me to move through the remaining frames in slow motion and see, for the first time, every split second of the lightning strike unfolding. There it was—the big “flash-boom”—a brilliant burst of light. Then another. Really? Slow playback, there they were: one. . .two. . .and three! If you want to try it yourself, you can fiddle with the video playback to slow or stop motion.
Is this how it felt to first peer through the earliest telescopes? To see things before unseen?
It made me think about how we perceive—how animals and insects can hear sound frequencies outside our human-hearing range, and how birds and insects can see light frequencies outside our visual range.
Are there any creatures that can see in slow motion? Just a thought.
*fireflies also known as lightning bugs!
One reader’s comment interestingly described what she saw in the images above (brain neurons and a lady’s face in profile). Another reader’s comment sent me into research mode for things that induce altered time perception. I found a passage that quite answers the mystery of why I initially saw one flash, when there were indeed three!!! (from a blog post “10 Ways Our Minds Warp Time” #4):
When things happen very close together in time, our brains fuse them together into a single snapshot of the present. For vision the shortest interval we can perceive is about 80 milliseconds. If two things happen closer together than that, then we experience them as simultaneous.
credit: still images from video by Basil Soufi