Lightning strikes KL Tower

This is the money shot. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

How Malay Mail photographer Azneal Ishak got the perfect shot

PETALING JAYA, Aug 2 — Azneal Ishak has been obsessed with capturing the perfect lightning shot since September 2015. Yesterday, the 26-year-old photographer succeeded in his pursuit.

His snapshot of a single bolt of lightning zigzagging dramatically through the dark grey sky and connecting with the tip of the Kuala Lumpur Tower was posted, reposted and drew lots of “hearts” on social media.

And that was even before it made the front cover of today’s Malay Mail newspaper.

“I’ve always loved taking pictures of lightning strikes because it is such a challenge to me as a photographer. In September 2015, I took a series of lightning shots but I could never capture the moment.

“That failed picture I shot in 2015 started an inspirational journey for me to capture a perfect lightning moment in the heart of Kuala Lumpur,” Azneal related today.

That ‘failed’ shot in 2015, which ignited his journey in search of a perfect KL Tower lightning image. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

The Malay Mail photographer said he was inspired to chase the lightning shot while riding his scooter home to Segambut yesterday.

While on the Duta Ulu-Kelang Expressway (DUKE) and soaking wet, he happened to glance at the sky and a picturesque scene of lightning striking the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower popped into his head.

“Also, a day before, there was a video that went viral which showed lightning striking KLCC and told myself ‘Today looks like the perfect moment’,” he said.

He hurried home, changed out of his sopping wet clothes and suited up in a black raincoat and armed with his Canon 1DX digital SLR camera, wide-angle lens, 300mm lens, 70-200mm lens, 1.5-litre bottle of mineral water and a can of coffee, headed back out into the rain to continue the hunt for “the perfect shot”.

The balcony where Azneal staked out for a good 60 minutes. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

His mother was not happy and was concerned for his safety.

“My mum was asking me to stay indoors but I explained to her why this particular shot meant so much to me, and after a while she just told me to stay safe in the heavy rain.”

Buzzing with anticipation, Azneal got back onto the DUKE and scanned the skies and cityscape for a suitable place where he could get a chance, but none appealed to him.

“I stopped three times at various spots along the highway but could not capture that moment I wanted.

“I rode off and stopped by for a quick smoke to think of another location where I could capture the twin towers and KL Tower,” he said.

The clocked ticked on to 5.30pm and the rain kept coming down, but Azneal was not deterred.

Azneal (right) started off his photography career as an intern with Bernama in 2014 before signing on with Malay Mail in September 2014. He joined as full-time staff in July 2015. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

He then rode to an apartment located in Taman Datuk Senu, Sentul, which he knew would give him a great view of the iconic Twin Towers and the KL Tower. But the rain and lightning subsided as soon as he arrived.

“At that moment, I thought going back home was the only option, but I decided to take the lift up instead and wait for that moment.”

Azneal said the view from the first block did not appeal to him, so he tried a different block and was sipping on coffee and having a smoke when the moment he had envisioned happened.

“Lightning hit the tip of the twin towers and KL Tower at the same time, I couldn’t believe I missed that moment I wanted so badly,” he said.

Even so, he decided to stay, hoping against hope for lightning to strike the same towers twice.

He laid his camera along the edge of the balcony because he didn’t have a tripod, kept his eye in the viewfinder and his right index finger on the shutter button for almost an hour.

One of the hardest shots to get as Azneal describes it. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

At 7.15pm, he got the money shot.

“Although I felt I had a decent shot, I was still unhappy because I wanted the other image I witnessed,” Azneal said.

He continued snapping more photos, but the rain and lightning display ended 15 minutes later without offering him anything better than the single lightning bolt.

Azneal then called Malay Mail photo editor Choo Choy May to ask if there was space in today’s newspaper for his picture.

“After a while she messaged me and said that it was going on the cover. I really did not expect that to happen, but it was the perfect way to end my three-hour wait for that perfect moment,” he said.

Source: Malay Mail, By Chris Mohan. 02 August 2018

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