Dong Shuchang and An Jiu shot the view of the night sky over the Himalayas, the same place they captured photos of sprite lightning. provided to TEENS
Many of us may have seen lighting, but how about sprite lightning? It’s a colorful group of lightning flashes high above thunderstorm clouds. Some of them don’t even shine for one microsecond, but young Chinese star photographers Dong Shuchang and An Jiu used their lenses to shoot a rare “red-sprite” lightning burst in the Himalayas in Tibet autonomous region on the evening of May 19.
“This is the best photo ever taken in China, and it is the first time that this kind of sprite lightning we have shot has been seen around the world,” meteorological expert Ji Yun told Xinhua.
For 24-year-old Dong, from Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region, it’s the result both of good luck and good preparation. Passing through the mountains, Dong and his companion An originally planned to shoot stars and the Milky Way. With the cold wind howling, they were too tired to talk and could only face their own camera monitors, waiting in silence for almost three hours.
“An Jiu! Look this way!” When Dong was looking at the sky, countless red lights suddenly poured down from above and dyed the entire starry sky red. The sprite lightning appeared very frequently, around every one or two minutes. “Our four or five cameras took about 200 photos of the red sprites. There are even four or five consecutive cases of them appearing in one photo at the same time!” Dong shouted excitedly.
Later, they encountered a group of wolves. Instead of running, they calmly packed up their equipment and turned on their headlights to illuminate the animals. Then they slowly stepped away to escape the danger.
Using the lens to capture the beautiful stars has brought excitement and purpose to Dong’s life, although the process has been mixed with sweat and tears. In 2006, 8-year-old Dong received an astronomical telescope and started practicing using a telephoto lens to photograph the Milky Way to hone his skills. On June 21, 2020, Dong captured a solar eclipse in a photo titled The Golden Ring, winning the 2021 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition hosted by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
Then in late September, 2021, Dong went on a photography trip to Mount Qomolangma. He focused on finding places off the beaten track and differences in the region over the past 100 years.
“Astrophotography enables me to record details that are usually missed by the naked eye,” Dong said. Speaking about future plans, Dong said he would explore new fields and find better ways to integrate science and art.