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Long Exposure Photo of a Tree Struck by Lightning

The internet seems to believe this is a "long exposure photo of a lightning bolt hitting a tree."

It's not.

Well, it is a long exposure shot, but not of lightning. It's a photo created by "light painter" Darren Pearson (aka Darius Twin). Wikipedia defines light painting as "a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera."

Pearson light painted the blue flames at the base of the tree. He then cut-and-pasted the lightning bolt itself into the photo from a NOAA image of a lightning strike (below).

Pearson posted the image on his Facebook page on Oct. 17, 2013, with the caption "The old Benjamin Franklin trick wink"

So in its original context this was clearly presented as an art photo. It was only when the Internet recaptioned it, that it became a fake (or misleading) photo.

And for the sake of comparison, here's an actual photo of lightning striking a tree.

Photos/VideosThe Gallery of Fake Viral Images
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 09, 2014

Found this ste while checking if a photo was real...
Posted by Sandra Lindsay  in  UK  on  Sun Jan 19, 2014  at  05:01 AM
Your info about how the 'long exposure lightning strike tree' (the pic showed up on FB this morning) was created, was fascinating. Looking forward to seeing more of your research. Thanks!
Posted by Elaine V.  in  South Jersey, US  on  Wed Jan 22, 2014  at  08:46 AM
Believing half of what I see and none of what I hear without independent evidence I found this site while checking a photo...
Posted by Angela Maher  in  North west England  on  Sun Feb 09, 2014  at  06:08 PM
still love it even tho its fake very pretty grin
Posted by kristal  in  lewisburg tn  on  Thu Jul 17, 2014  at  02:10 PM


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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.