Fallen crane during a thunderstorm, Coral Gables, Miami.

Ball Lightning

One of the natural wonders I'd always wanted to see was ball lightning. Everyone can create tiny ones by putting smouldering ambers into a microvawe stove (.mpg video 3.4MB), but seeing a large, naturally-created one is a very different thing. It is not terribly rare (it's estimated that one out of ten people gets to see it during the lifetime), but it is virtually impossible to photograph, because it usually lasts only 1-5 seconds.

Ball lightning, Coral Gables, Florida.

Well, one day I got lucky. We had a supercell thunderstorm. The lightning struck a house next to mine, and a wind gust toppled a construction crane across the street. Just as I was taking pictures of it from the balcony, a dot of very bright white light separated from the crane, rapidly drifted downward and disappeared in a weak flash. The whole thing lasted about a second. And I got it! As far as I know, this is one of only 2-3 photos of a natural ball lightning. The photo shows only about a half of arc-shaped trajectory.

Black-and-white close-up of the previous photo.