Saturday, December 1, 2007
When the weather turns bad, it's time to get the camera. Even in the winter, there are astonishing images to be had if you‚’re willing to look for them.
A key element to safe, successful storm cloud photography is a familiarization with the area in which you're shooting. I live in the rolling plains near the small ranching town of Benjamin some 125 miles west of Lubbock, Texas. It’s a fantastic region for sky-watchers, as the early spring cold fronts frequently collide with moist Gulf air to create violent storm conditions. The area is a land of big ranches, few people and open vistas, excellent conditions for unobstructed views and mobility—essential ingredients for ease of composition when photographing the structural makeup of impressive cloud formations. I’m familiar with all roads in the region and know the location of good foreground
Often, these ingredients are most prevalent in the hours or minutes before the onset of savage weather or actually in the minutes after the passing of the storm, especially if the phenomenon occurs in the last hour or so before sunset. In the latter case, clouds begin to dissipate, resulting in surreal light displays as the light beams through water droplets suspended in the atmosphere. Clouds form and seem to be interlocked in a colossal struggle to maintain their initial power level, reforming and then breaking apart to create amazing photo opportunities. At this point, it’s important to be in place with the camera ready, as such displays are fleeting in their maximum intensity. One must be vigilant in order to capture the apex of color and structure often seen in the dying moments of a storm.
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