In some parts of the United States (particularly the Southeast), summer time means storm time. Storm time can mean a great time for photography if you’re brave and creative. So long as you take reasonable precautions and don’t take foolhardy risks, you can capture some absolutely amazing images. Storm photographers can also help to capture valuable data for climate scientists and meteorologists to use in their weather models and warning systems which can be used to help save lives from deadly natural phenomena like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. If there’s a better reason to capture these dangerously beautiful images, we don’t know it. So, we’re here to help you capture the perfect storm photo with these 4 tips!
1) Account for the wind
Strong winds will make holding your camera steady difficult so take the heaviest, sturdiest tripod you have. If you’re shooting in an area that has soft soil, you can drive the feet into the ground to hold it stable. If the ground is rocky, you can use a sandbag or a weighted bag to weigh it down and keep it stable. You’ll also want to remember the wind when it comes to your umbrella — use a heavy-grade umbrella that does not turn inside-out due to the wind. This can not only help with protecting your lens, it can help with the weight a bit.
2) Don’t forget about the rain, either
The aforementioned umbrella can help you deal with the ran but you might want to consider getting a camera rain-coat or investing in a waterproof housing if your camera isn’t water resistant. If you don’t have one handy, you can always make one yourself using a heavy-duty plastic bag and some duct tape (duct tape — is there anything it can’t do?)
3) Carry some filters and be ready to adjust to rapid lighting changes
Storms are infamous for their lightning-fast lighting changes. The sky can go from clear to completely overcast in less than three minutes. Lightning can flash, nearly blinding you, then leaving you in darkness with only the afterimage seared in your retina. You’ll need to be intimately acquainted with your camera’s settings well beforehand and be ready to change them quickly. If you’re planning to try to capture images of lightning, you’ll need to be patient and have a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
4) Don’t forget about composition
It’s easy to get so focused on capturing the storm and forget to compose your shots. If your photos aren’t well-composed and interesting with elements in the foreground and background, then they may not capture the interest of the viewer. So, if you can, take the time to set up your shot and try to frame it so that the storm activity you’re photographing is highlighted by the elements in the foreground.
Storm photography is beautiful, so long as reasonable precautions are taken. With these four tips, your storm photos are sure to come out better than ever before!