Photo © Simon Heather


Thunderstorm in St. Petersburg

Thunderstorm in St. Petersburg
by Anton Galakhov

The shot was taken on Krestovsky Island using Dji phantom 4 pro quadcopter at a height of approximately 180 meters in September 2018. On the photo: A panorama of St Petersburg from the side of Krestovsky Island, the beginning of a thunderstorm. There is a lot of water on the photo: the Srednyaya Nevka river, the Grebnoy (Rowing) Canal, and the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland. There is a thick layer of thunderclouds, which are ready to pour down rain on the earth at any minute, at the top. Water is represented in all shades of blue; it contrasts with horizontals of a bridge of the Western High-Speed Diameter, roads and embankments lit with warm yellow light, and lights of the city embarrassing St Petersburg coast of the Baltic Sea. Two white flashes of lightning cutting the shot vertically are the visual center of the composition. Another white vertical is the Lakhta Center Tower, which almost merges with thunderclouds hanging low over it. Its white inner light makes it kin to the lightning flashes by its color hue. In general, the shot looks as if it is static: the desolate bridge, the waters of the Nevka river which seem motionless, – the moment of the calm before the storm. Two lightning flashes seem to give out a signal for the downpour to come down. The back story of the photo: There was a weather “anomaly” in St Petersburg that month: extraordinarily hot autumn and three successive heavy thunderstorms. Of course, the idea “to capture the lightning” appeared immediately after the first thunderstorm. To capture a shot of lightning is one of the greatest successes a photographer can achieve. You never know where and when it flashes, and the flash itself lasts a split second. Therefore, when capturing lightning, the main thing is to keep your wits about you. I went to shoot a holiday in Primorsky Park Pobedy that day. I took the quadcopter, just to be on the safe side since there was a promising weather forecast. And indeed, in the evening a strong wind arose and a thunderstorm began. The holiday was over, but I stayed trying to capture the moment when lightning flashed in the dark sky. It was required to shoot with a proper exposure, but when there is a strong wind, it is practically impossible to do this using a quadcopter: all photos are blurred. And, of course, no one knows at what moment and where a new flash of lightning may appear. I made about 200 successive photos without interruption. One shot turned out to be successful.