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  1. #1
    Join Date
    12 Jul 2011

    How I Shoot Storms.

    This my First attempt at writing a guide or How To.

    I like to chase Storms they fascinate me, I enjoy the Build up just as much as the chase, but out here I'm lucky that most storm's hone in to where I live and don't need to go very far to capture Images.

    First off the information with in this guide is my opinion and only intended as a guide, I will not be held responsible of loss of equipment or personal injuries that may occur during this activity.

    There is NO way to guarantee your safety if you venture into or near severe weather. There is also NO way to guarantee your safety when you venture into an area recently struck by severe weather.
    There maybe fallen debris and fast flowing water and submerged objects and other unforeseeable dangers.
    Keep a good look out.

    Storm chasing is a dangerous activity, Always remember personal safety.
    Most of the time I use my car as a refuge for when the storm is getting to close.
    Storm photography can be a lot of fun result in some Stunning Images, but stay safe! No storm photograph is worth jeopardizing your safety and many of the best shots can be had before or after the worst of the storm anyway.

    Here is a video that explains how lightning is formed.

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    Before I go out to take photos of a storm I look at the weather Radars. This one is good as it also shows lightning.

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    BOM_national radar link too

    And even out in the field I use my Mobile phone to check what's happening on the radar.
    Some storms can have the capability of flash flooding so be aware of your surroundings.
    Out here in Central West Queensland, it's what's known as black soil and can be quite boggy very quickly so I have to be careful of not getting stuck.

    A good sturdy Tripod is a must there is sometime strong wind involved with storms, so make sure your camera is secure.
    It would be a very expensive photo if the camera falls over.

    I use a remote shutter release, to help keep the camera shake to a minimum, and live view to help compose the shot.

    Day time storms you can use the same settings as you would with any other landscape work.
    I have a screw type UV filter to help protect the front element of the lens, also a screw type Circular Polarizer filter to help make the clouds and sky pop.

    I try to include an object that shows the scale of the storm whether it be a tree, structure, fence.
    I also like getting down low to give a more dramatic view of the storm, it also aid's the stabilization of the camera.

    As you all know water and electronics don' mix, generally when there is a storm there will be water in the form of rain hail or snow (precipitation)
    So have a think about taking an umbrella or other weather proofing equipment.
    I personally stop shooting if it starts to rain and get back to a road that wont become boggy after 10 ml of rain.

    Lens cloths are a must if you have a light rain, dust or debris that can be whipped up by the approaching storm front.

    Lightning Photos.

    Lightning shots can be quite impressive to capture and give's me a real buzz knowing I have captured something that no one else has caught.
    Every shot is different, so they are unique.
    SAFETY is a must with this type of photography. Donít take unnecessary chances during storm Chasing, it's not worth getting hurt or even Killed for that "SHOT"

    During the day capturing strikes is a hit a miss affair, but It give's me great excitement to capture one. Like the holy grail for me.

    Capturing lightning at earlier or later time's of the day is much easier than during the middle of the day, as the increased time the shutter is open gives you more chances of getting a strike or even multiple strikes in the shot.
    Night shooting is hard to focus, Set your lens on Manual Focus and focus for infinity as most times the lightning is far form you. it may take a couple of frames to get there but its worth persevering with

    The speed at which some storms move can some times blur a Strike with cloud moving over the exposed strike So I adjust the ISO to give a shorter exposure time.
    Night shooting there is not much available light so a long exposure aids in lighting the foreground, so I try to find a happy medium.
    Depending on the distance of the strikes I adjust the Aperture, further out I tend to use a larger aperture and as they become closer or more frequently I stop down to stop the strike from over exposing.

    I have spent 2 years with this type of photography and was disappointed with my earlier shots but as I go along it gets easier so hopefully this guide will help others who wish to get that "Perfect Shot"
    I still have a lot to learn with my photography and will take any C&C on board and hopefully help others form what I have learned already.

    Thanks to you guys for looking and commenting on my images it has helped me learn a massive amount.

    Cheers Deon.
    Last edited by arthurking83; 27-12-2011 at 9:11pm. Reason: added BOM radar link
    Canon 1000D Canon EFS 18-55,Canon EFS 55-200.
    Foto Bestway Carbon Fiber Tripod KJ2 Ball head.
    58mm Circular Polarize.Canon Cable Release,Borrowed :Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM and a 580EX Speedlight.

    "Nature does all the work I try to capture it."

  2. #2
    Thanks a heap for the info Dink.............I chased a storm all over the Mornington Peninsula on Saturday and got absolutely nothing
    I purchased one of those 'Patchmaster' lightning triggers from ebay as I have some friends in the US who use them and swear by them, plus my reflexes are so slow these days.
    So that was my first attempt and a dismal one at that..........but no loss, it made me ponder some things I may need like rain protection for me and equipment

    My safety is absolutely paramount, so I actually made a brace for the car window that I have bolted a tripod head onto............can't wait for the next storm so I can test it out.

    Thanks for posting this info!!
    Cheers and Happy Shooting

    Canon 7D, 50mm, 100mm Macro
    Olympus E-30, 9-18mm, 14-54mm, 50-200mm
    Photoshop CS5

  3. #3

    Join Date
    12 Jul 2011
    Thanks for reading. that bracket sounds like a great idea. The storms up here have been vaguely fairly active of late. How you have better luck next time.
    Cheers Dink.

  4. #4
    I'd recommend learning about storms if you really want to get into storm photography. I think general things such as interpreting radar and forecasting are very important. Ideally you should have some idea about what is possible before you hit the road. Storms producing hail to around 10 cm do occur in parts of Australia and you certainly don't want to mess with storms like that, even with the protection of your car. Damaging winds are also another danger to consider. The possiblity of a tree falling on your car is very real and something to keep in mind.

    Most storms are going to be fairly harmless besides the ever present dangers of lightning. Just remember though that some storms are very dangerous. Without knowledge of severe storms, your chances of placing yourself at risk are probably much greater.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    12 Jul 2011
    Thanks lazyshooter for your input.

    Its a work in progress this storm stuff..
    any good reading you may suggest for this topic...

    Cheers Dink.

  6. #6
    Well there is a lot of information available on the internet. The following is link is worth looking at. A lot of the basic principles are discussed and there are a few case examples of big storm days in SE Qld/NE NSW-

    This site is excellent for forecast charts-

    There is really alot to get your head around when you start looking at this side of things. I would say with forecasting, it important to be able to assess atmospheric instability. Generally more instablity means stronger updrafts and hence greater probabilities of severe weather. Unfortunately though, it's not that simple and other factors come into play such as vertical wind shear.

    Unfortunately I don't know of any good sites with radar analysis of Australian severe storms.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the tips - most storms happen here while I'm stuck in the office, but looking forward to the day I can use some of your techniques to *hopefully* capture one!

  8. #8
    Some good info there Dink.
    I agree with learning about storms, if you wish to photograph them. Keeping an eye on direction, distance and intensity of any storm while photographing it, is a must.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    28 Dec 2008
    South of Adelaide
    Good tips and reckon i may give it a go at some stage
    Newbie to the world of Digital Gear: Nikon D60 - 18-55mm - 55 - 200mm - SB400 - New Sigma 10-20mm

  10. #10
    Join Date
    08 May 2010
    Nanuet, New York
    I have just finished a rather long thread on the chasing of storms, the risks associated and some additional information, I would strongly urge you to read it if you have read this thread as It contains much needed additional information.
    It can be found here:

    On the Chasing of Storms - Advice, Risks and Links from a Storm Researcher :

    If you are interested to learn more, want to hear more about storm chasing, or need advice I am happy to recieve and reply to PMs, one of my great joys is sharing the knowledge of the atmosphere.

    Last edited by Xebadir; 22-12-2011 at 12:30pm. Reason: Adding Link to replace post.
    Nikon D800, D700, Nikkor 14-24 F2.8, 24-70mm F2.8, 50mm F1.8D, 70-200mm F2.8 VRII, Manfrotto 190XB with Q5 PM Head,
    SB-900,600, portable strobist setup & Editing on an Alienware M14x with LR4 and CS5 and a Samsung XL2370 Monitor.

    Stormchasing isn't a hobby...its an obsession.
    For my gallery and photography:

  11. #11

    Join Date
    12 Jul 2011
    Thanks John.

    I have just read your post and found it very informative, and thanks for taking the time for post it..

    I think that my post is a little under informed but it was only a guide of what I do ATM. and was never meant to give some one a false Idea of how to be safe in storms.
    I have been researching a bit on forecasts and models with in the Rural Fire brigades and how weather works and affects how they change the behavior of fires but have know where the amount of knowledge that you do.

    I Thank you for pointing others in a area in which you have more experience than I.
    I hope I did not give the wrong impression of this dangerous activity.

    Cheers Dink

    P.s i would like to add that I will post my questions and quires in the forum so others can learn form them...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    10 Nov 2009
    Coffs Harbour
    Thanks for tips dink. Been wanting to try this for a while.

    K-5, P3n, ZX-L, DA 12-24mm, DA* 16-50mm, DA* 50-135mm, DA* 300mm, F 50mm 1.4, FA 77mm Limited, A 100mm 2.8 macro, A 50mm 2.8 macro, K 55mm 1.8

  13. #13
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
    Join Date
    04 Jun 2006
    the worst house, in the best street
    Great info from both Dink(here) and John (in his how to thread).

    My only contribution is the BOM radar link .. which I've added to Dink's original post just in case anyone has has an unnatural interest in weather patterns too!

    funnily tho, having an interest in current realtime weather patterns also helps us landscapers in a lot of ways.

    I've never been out storm chasing myself(at least that's not what I call it) .. more of a landscape weather chaser.
    I like the interest that the weather brings to the landscape world.

    anyhow.. I've added the BOM link to Dink's thread, under the weatherzone link.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC

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