Friday, April 17, 2009

The Storm's Edge

I've been following Ryan McGinnis' The Big Storm Picture for some time. He has captured some amazing pictures.

So, when a big thunderstorm blew into Colorado Springs yesterday, I was inspired to go out and hunt for some dramatic shots of the storm for today's Sky Watch Friday.

This single attempt illustrated that I have a lot to learn.

The first place I stopped was Palmer Park (click here for one view of the park). It's a high point near the center of the city. There was some amazing view of storm slamming into the mountains to the west. As there was flashes in the sky, I was hesitant about getting out of the car and setting up the tripod. I tried to take some shots out the window, but the wind was blowing rain towards me.

Driving though town, I came across a number of great views of the storm or the clouds. Some shots, I didn't take the shot because I felt the buildings, road, power lines, etc interfered with the photo. Other shots, I didn't take because I was on a busy street and had no safe place to park. The shots I did take didn't turn out. Some were fuzzy because the lack of a tripod, or very noisy because of the high ISO.

Eventually, I decided to head towards the edge of storm, so I headed out into the prairies east of the Springs. The storm was huge! The roads out here have no shoulders and it seemed unsafe to park and setup the tripod. I also found that I didn't feel comfortable hanging out on the edge of someones property taking pictures.

This is the single shot that I got yesterday that I felt was worthy of sharing. It's a hand held shot taken into the face a strong, cold wind. I'm afraid I messed up the exposure on most of the shots due to my haste of getting out of the wind and off the road.

As expected, trying to capture this storm photographically was extremely difficult and I have a lot to learn.

Anyone out there have any suggestions?

Point your browser over to Sky Watch Friday for some other great photos.

BTW - last night thunderstorm turned in to a snow storm overnight - and it's still falling.


ms toast burner said...

Well, it's a great photo regardless.

No advice from me, I'm afraid.

Snow! haha... sorry! ;-)

Mike said...

Wow! Not a sight I have ever seen in person..great capture.
My Skywatch

Carolyn said...

Russ, it is a great shot and nicely compositioned. One of the things I absolutely love about digital is that you can take lots of photos and then delete those you don't like that was a lot harder with film. I also like that you come up with some surprises. Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing and I hope the snow stops soon!

Photo Cache said...

Oh wow! What does one say to something this magnificent?

Louise said...

This is DEFINITELY worth sharing. Suggestions? Just keep trying. When I intentionally set out to photograph something--anything--it never turns out as I'd hoped. The things I like the best in my collection are the things when I ran to grab the camera and took it quickly.

Also, I've taken pictures of some VERY beautiful scenery,but when I upload, I'm not as impressed. But when I see it later, I AM impressed. I think too soon after the magnificent, our mind compares what we got with what was there. Wait a few days, and you might be happier. I think this is a spectacular shot, but I didn't see the real thing.

Steve B said...

Seems to me the last time I drove to The Springs I got hammered by a thunderstorm. And the next to the last time and the time before that...I miss the Front Range.

Linnea W said...

Oh...I love this scene. So dramatic yet in some way serene. I love crazy weather. Thanks for visiting my SWF post.

Bryan said...

I think you've done well for your first attempt!
As with any form of photography or most things in life, you learn with experience. It also sounds like the rain and wind were strong. I imagine next time the elements will be more forgiving.

I haven't been storm chasing before so this is merely conjecture, but in a city I would think that storm photography would be easier from a higher-than-street-level vantage point such as a building window, a covered balcony, a roof if the rain and wind haven't picked up yet, or that park you mentioned. This way you get more of the sky and storm and less of the unwanted interference. Otherwise, I would probably do the same as you and go away from the busy streets and look for areas with long visible distances.

prkl said...

i'd take photoshop and trim on levels. adding little punch to it. lil' bit more on hue/saturation also. that's it, i reacon it would better this shot. composition and all else is just fine on this. great SWF shot!

Russ said...

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions everyone. Summer on the front range will provide LOTS of practice.

Louise - yep, the key is capture the mood, or emotion in the photo. Tricky. You correct about needing some distance from the shot.

Bryan - I've been learning that scouting out good vantage points is definitely key! I'm slowly building up a cache of locations for future use.

prkl -- I'll give that a try!