If any of you win the lottery...

If any of you get rich, maybe you can get some of these toys to use on a chase:

http://www.photosonics.com/index.htm

Photo-Sonics Inc.

We specialize in high speed digital cameras, high speed film cameras, optical tracking systems, motion analysis software, head-up display cameras, film scanners and other specialized photo-optical instrumentation products.

This item would be particularly nice for filming a tornado:

Range_Camera.jpg


Range-Camera-recorder-low.jpg


Recently high-speed digital imaging technology and computer technology have advanced to the point where long recording of high-speed digital images is possible. The Photo-Sonics DRC655 has been developed to take advantage of these technologies. It can image at 500 frames per second for 15 minutes or more.
 
That would be great for lightning video. 500fps is good enough to resolve some small-scale propagation behaviors with lightning, particularly stepped leaders. Standard 30fps can resolve one or two frames of the stepped leader before the first return stroke (more if the lightning is far away and coming out of the clouds), but 500fps would get some great stepped leader sequences.

There have been some nice 1000fps shots of lightning taken with high-speed film cameras, but the cost of film and vast amounts of wasted film needed to get the shot make this difficult:

http://wsx.lanl.gov/images/lightzap.gif
http://wsx.lanl.gov/images/lightning.mpg
(just a note - the video above has been edited to show a forward-reverse sequence of the same clip, there isn't actually a stepped leader that 'retracts' back up as the clip shows)

Maybe I should look into getting a grant to pick up one of these :)
 
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