Lightning and powerful storms were important to ancient peoples around the world, inspiring myths about gods and demons. Today, however, we are no less fascinated by powerful weather, be it lightning or supercell storm clouds. U.S.-based photographer Rolf Maeder has captured their impressive elemental power perfectly in these photographs taken on a stormy night at the Grand Canyon.
Maeder drove to the canyon looking to take some sunset pictures and found, arguably, something far more interesting. By using very long exposure times, he was able to capture multiple lightning strikes in a single photograph (camera shutters typically open for a fraction of a second to take a picture. For some pictures, Maeder held it open for 25 seconds). These are not Maeder’s only awe-inspiring nature shots – he has others on his website and blog, and he sells prints of them as well.
The Grand Canyon had been inhabited in ancient times by various Native American groups. It was first encountered by Europeans in 1540, and later by Americans moving west in the 1800s. It has captured the imagination of almost every group of people that have ever visited it – various Native American groups considered the canyon to be a holy site, and it became an American national park, monument, and symbol of the American West. The canyon is roughly 277 mi (446 km) long, 2600 ft (800 m) deep, and between 4 and 18 miles (6.4 and 29 km) wide. It is not the deepest, widest or longest canyon world, but it is valued, among other things, for the beautifully preserved and exposed layers of rock along the banks, which were cut over millions of years by the Colorado River. The land exposed covers roughly 2 billion years of Earth’s geological history.