Storms have always fascinated me. The feeling of being completely at the mercy of mother nature is quite difficult to express with words, and I don't know why yet, but not being in control at all in these situations excites me.
Photographing storms pumps my adrenaline to the next level and I feel like a little boy, always wanting more, to get closer, forgetting about the danger involved. And let's be honest, being on top of the mountains or inside the water, shooting some flow during an electric storm is everything but smart, so please if you do so, be careful out there.
During the same trip I photographed Alpine Daisies, we had a couple of storms passing by and we were so stoked that we could capture this one at this amazing and not too photographed location. The day had been pretty hot with clear skies during the morning/arvo, and after an early start and some exploring around, we decided to have a power nap after lunch. When we woke up, we spotted some cells developing in the west and suddenly our excitement increased. Dany got into his time-lapse mode and set one up the hill while the rest were emulating him with our phones ( just for the gram they said). Sometime later, together with a couple of flashes, made us run down the hill to get our cameras out of the bags and set up as fast as we could.
I'm an old school guy in terms of photographing storms. I don't trust lighting triggers and since memory is cheap and reliable nowadays, I don't mind ending with thousands of photos even though I recognise it's not the most efficient way to do it.
I decided to zoom in on this scene, playing with the layers and a greater depth of field, even though I must say that composition wise, the right ridges are too close to each other to my taste. Since it was still pretty bright out there and I couldn't use any ND Filters (forgot the adapter at home) I had to push the settings a bit far in order to get a slow shutter speed enough to capture the bolts. By heart, the settings for the bolts were 0.5s f32 iso 50, and I just captured 5 bolts over 2000 photos. Bearing in mind the optical diffraction due to the high aperture I was using, I knew I had to capture the rest of the scene with optimal settings to increase the overall sharpness of the final image so I took some exposures when we had these magical rays of light bathing the ridgeline, creating some separation from the first ridge in the foreground.
It still amazes me how quickly the conditions change during storms, from dark skies to intense beams of light making the freshly wet greens pop in seconds. To avoid missing "the shot", it is extremely important to be focused and well aware of weather conditions, such as wind or cloud cover, to anticipate these circumstances and take advantage of them.
In this timelapse, captured by Matt Finn, you can see these beautiful beams of light flooding sunlight onto the mountains. Capturing this storm brought us joy and excitement and I think we all ended with some interesting shots! Matt Finn apparently has the next cover for National Geographic, but yet to be edited, lol. During the night, we had another storm that lit our tents for hours but it was way too close to be out there shooting.
I'd love to read your stormy stories in the comments below!
Good light everyone!