Out of interest... I understand the lead(ers) hit the ground first and the connection heads upward... can you see the lead(s) as it generates on the ground?
Can you take a picture of it? Probably not, as the leaders are the first sign of light you'd get from lightning. You may be able to do if you used an EMF trigger, however, but they tend to be fussy.
Can you see them by eye? Maybe, if you just happen to catch it at the perfect time, but realistically, no.
Only way to see them perfectly is with highspeed video