(Lightning) bolt hits as (Usain) Bolt wins to create incredible photo
posted Monday, August 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM EST
Usain Bolt's name has always seemed a fitting accompaniment to his speed, a perfect aptronym. And it appears the forces of nature agree, with an AFP photographer capturing an absolutely incredible image of Bolt winning the 100m final in Moscow just as a lightning bolt blasts across the sky.
AFP photographer Olivier Morin was covering the IAAF World Championship in Moscow with a number of remote camera rigs, in addition to the one in his hands. One of these camera set-ups was aimed square at the finish line, focused on Bolt's lane. On the AFP blog, Morin explained how he set up the shot, and how much of it was pure chance.
Morin had set up that camera to catch the victorious Bolt, with some sky in the background for context. As Bolt crossed the finish line, the photographer shot the camera in his hand, and triggered his remote setup via a foot pedal. As he explains it:
"Let's be honest: the only things I was able to control were the framing of the shot and when to hit the remote-controlled trigger. The flash of lightning -– well, of course that can’t be planned, even if the stormy sky had been rumbling for 20 minutes and all of us photographers were trying to capture a lightning bolt.
This was, I think, a once-in-a-lifetime moment. In my 25 years as a photographer I’ve never had an uncontrollable external element make a photo like this, and I imagine if I tried again for a similar result for the next 50 years, it wouldn’t happen again. So, I only really give myself credit for one percent of this picture!"
The reaction to the photo has been extraordinary, with people calling it "career defining" and "incredible." (In fact, the image has become a news story in itself.) The chance of a lightning bolt hitting just as Usain Bolt wins a sprint, and being captured by a professional photographer, are vanishingly small. And, like so many iconic shots, it's a perfect combination of timeliness and skill to create an astonishing image.