The Thrill of Storm Chasing and Weather Photography
Writing and Photography by Larry Herscovitch
Storm and weather photography is an exciting offshoot of landscape photography.
Photography is all about the light. Sometimes you get the best light during bad weather, especially when storms are occurring at sunset. While photographing bad weather, I have seen colours that had to be seen to be believed. Not many things compare to the excitement of waiting for the special light and cloud forms of an approaching storm. You never know what will happen, and you may see something amazing that you have never seen before. When you capture a lightning bolt, you are truly capturing a very unique moment in time, never to be seen again.
Stormy shelf cloud over downtown Toronto from Tommy Thompson park (Leslie St. Spit) by Larry J. Herscovitch
HOW I CAME TO CHASE ONTARIO STORMS
Some of my love of storm photography was instilled in me by my father, a retired meteorologist who was part of the team that set up the weather radar site in King City Ontario in 1984. We still go on local weather photography chases to this day.
Ontario storm season does not provide the quantity or severity of storms that the American Midwest does in the spring time, but there are still opportunities from spring to fall to capture something amazing. While an extraordinary storm photo often requires an element of luck, there are many things that can be done to maximize your chance for success.
Double rainbow over Toronto and Humber Bay Park West by Larry J. Herscovitch
TIPS AND TOOLS FOR STORM CHASERS
Prepare yourself by following closely weather forecasts, satellite photos, and weather radar, all of which are readily available on the internet. There are phone apps such as The Photographers Ephemeris which is useful in understanding sun and moon locations while setting and rising relative to a specific location on a specific date. Other apps/websites such as Skycandy, SunsetWx can be useful for predicting sky conditions, but keep in mind that these applications have their limits. The weather apps can break your heart if you let them. There is an unlimited amount of resources online and on YouTube for camera settings, and post processing techniques. A lightning trigger can be a useful tool for photographing lightning. Of course, nothing beats careful observation of the sky.
Amazing sky at Cathedral Bluffs park, the highest viewpoint at the Scarobrough Bluffs at 90 metres above Lake Ontario / Photo by Larry J. Herscovitch
Other advice would be to focus on attaining the best composition possible. Part of the challenge and fun of storm photography is the many quick decisions that must be made to obtain the best possible photograph while avoiding being hit by lightning, hail, strong winds or rain. Now get out there and shoot, and above all safety should be your first priority.
About the Author / Photographer
Larry J. Herscovitch is a photographer with interests in oil painting, playing baseball and hockey and traveling. Larry has photographed all over North America. When shooting close to home he heads to the Scarborough Bluffs and Leslie Spit in the Toronto area. Catch up with Larry via Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/larryherscovitch/
Designed and edited by Mike Simpson
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