Rolling shutter causes lightning to look like weird pink column of light

An odd pink column appears in some photos of lightning bolts. Those who notice the oddity rather naturally think it’s strange. But a little googling can reveal the down to earth cause.

This latest example appeared on Imgur earlier today.

pink streak

There is a lightning bolt in the vertical column.

This is not an inter-dimensional portal or a beam of energy. It’s a camera artifact called “rolling shutter”. The effect is explained here on Metabunk. The thread was created because of a similar photo with an even more New Age setting back in 2012. It has been updated with the latest example.

  15 comments for “Rolling shutter causes lightning to look like weird pink column of light

  1. MisterNeutron
    August 15, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    I think it’s really a tip-off that our new alien overlords are beaming down to take charge.

  2. Bob
    August 15, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    That’s clearly angels.

  3. Dana
    August 15, 2015 at 1:38 PM

    That is an awesome picture, though.

  4. August 15, 2015 at 4:08 PM

    Guess my analysis, while correct, led to a faulty conclusion back in 2012. I wonder if Richard Hoagland, Linda Moulton Howe, and others who promoted the “pink energy beam” from the Kukulkan pyramid will issue a retraction, too.

  5. CLamb
    August 15, 2015 at 7:10 PM

    I’m surprised people aren’t familiar with this effect. It is also apparent in photos taken by a camera with a focal plane shutter at a fast shutter speed. SLR cameras with focal plane shutters have been in use for many decades. With digital sensor technology motion video cameras also can have a rolling shutter.

  6. One Eyed Jack
    August 15, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    Prepare the Red Matter…

  7. Tony
    August 16, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    Can’t help but notice that the last three letters of the license plate of the VW in the foreground are “OMY.”

    Shades of George Takei!

  8. Blargh
    August 16, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    I’d make that “can have” a “will have” – all consumer-level video cameras use rolling shutters. You have to go for fully professional equipment to get a global shutter.

  9. Blargh
    August 17, 2015 at 12:48 PM

    It has nothing to do with the lens and is explained in detail – with helpful, clearly labeled explanatory photos and even videos – at the Metabunk link…

    Editors Note: I deleted Sentryman’s “yada yada yada” post. Pointless.

  10. Christophoclese
    August 17, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    That’s not rolling shutter, that’s ‘CCD Smear’.

  11. CLamb
    August 18, 2015 at 12:15 PM


  12. Dana
    August 18, 2015 at 1:07 PM

    No. Definitely aliens.

  13. August 20, 2015 at 12:36 AM

    Is it Throwback Thursday yet? I’m reminded of this Blast From The Past – it seems camera artifacts are ALWAYS considered evidence of paranormal or supernatural involvement:

    Oh, and a lightning bolt arguably IS a “beam of energy,” but not in the sense used by most people who use that phrase!

  14. idoubtit
    August 20, 2015 at 8:52 PM
  15. Dwight Kothari
    August 30, 2015 at 4:25 PM

    It s not unique to iPhones, it would happen with any camera using a rolling shutter. Perhaps a better way to demonstrate the obscuring would be with the rungs of a ladder?

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