Pic of the Week 4/28/16
Location: Between Guthrie and Paducah, TX on highway 83.
Date taken: 4/16/16
I have been very busy these past few days as the storm season has come into full swing. I have been on a few chases around the area and have come back with some interesting photographs. Yesterday (Tuesday) was supposed to be a very big day for severe weather. But the atmosphere had other ideas and while we did do some chasing and came back with some great shots, it wasn’t nearly as impressive as we had hoped. That’s okay though, because there will be plenty of storms to chase coming up in the next few weeks.
I am starting to make some headway on these edits and I decided to share one from a chase we did last week. I took a friend of mine out on his first storm chase and we targeted Guthrie, TX. When we arrived to our target storms were going up just to our northwest and we drove towards Jayton, TX to intercept a supercell. After a few hours of chasing the storms, getting in a lot of hail, and driving through the scenic landscape of the area, we reached a point where we could no longer keep up with the storm and had to watch them fade off into the sunset. This is one of my favorite times to shoot the storm. The low angle of the sun can add some great dimension and color to the storm structure. Our storm was dying and gusting itself out.
A shelf cloud was rolling in over our heads and the core of the storm was getting closer. But we waited for the sunset hoping we would catch the sun set behind a thin veil of precipitation. This can make a very dramatic scene. The core of our storm was too thick and blocked the sun. There were reports of 1.5” hail covering the highway just a few miles to our north. The sun set behind the core, but backlit our landscape in this radiant golden-yellow light. Small swaths of precip fell from the base and seemed to glow orange from the brilliant sunset. I shot several photos with my wide angle lens capturing the whole storm, but I wasn’t getting what I wanted for the shot. Don’t get me wrong a wide view of the storm and shelf cloud with a sliver of golden light on the horizon made for a nice image. But, I wanted to capture the intensity of the sunset as much as possible so I switched my lens.
I put on my Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens and zoomed right up on the sunset. The longer focal length makes the landscape, storm, and sunset compress and appear closer together. I kept just an edge of the core in the frame to balance the composition and have a better transition area from the harsh sunset light to the darker landscape in the foreground. It really was a remarkable scene watching the clouds churn overhead and reflect the gold sunlight revealing all the depth and layers to the clouds. It certainly differs from my usual storm photography and from time to time that can be very refreshing.
Too many times on storm chase you are rushing to get in position and trying to stay ahead of the storm. There is almost no time to consider composition or lighting and sometimes I don’t even have time to set up my tripod! So it feels nice to slow down and absorb what’s happening in front of you and take your time to really get the shot that best represents the moment. This turned out to be one of my favorite stops on the chase and it also made a killer timelapse video. Enjoy.