This is Transient, a short film created by storm chaser Dustin Farrell with the footage he captured while traveling 20,000 miles back and forth across the U.S. earlier this year chasing lightning storms. Shot in vivid detail with a hi-tech camera called the Phantom Flex4K, he showcases flashes of lightning in slow motion—1,000 frames per second.
Dustin Farrell, an American photographer and filmmaker, spent more than 30 days this summer trying to capture the majestic beauty of lightning. The epic 3-minute compilation of Farrell’s best storm chasing shots from the 2017 season whittled down from a massive 10TB of footage. Yet as he says in the description, the shooting process is relatively straightforward:
“The Phantom Flex4K is a camera that must be post triggered while shooting high speed. This works out well for capturing lightning because the camera is always recording and rewriting to internal ram.
As soon as a bolt appears in my viewfinder I trigger the camera to save what has been stored in the ram. Shooting at high frame rates requires a lot of light. Therefore, I mostly used my Zeiss Otus 28, 55, and 85mm lenses wide open at f1.4.”
It took a lot of stress and unpredictability to get the stunning display captured inside the camera. Sometimes, a ten-hour chase and 500 miles wouldn’t have given any results. And other times, nature would be more than rewarding. According to Dustin, this was one of the most difficult projects he has ever attempted during his long career. Despite the low points, Farrell had high points, too. “There were also a couple of days that I drove home with an ear to ear smile that lasted for hours.”
Most of the lightnings were captured in Farrell’s home state of Arizona and some of it was also filmed in the Great Plains. The whole project was an incredible experience to him that showed how much lightning bolts actually differ. “I learned that lightning varies greatly in speed. There are some incredible looking bolts that I captured that didn’t make the cut because even at 1000fps they only lasted for one frame during playback.”
What is clear from Transient is that there is beauty everywhere—even among the chaos.