What is storm chasing?
Storm chasing is a term used to describe the processes of forecasting, targeting and tracking severe weather with the ultimate aim of getting close to and observing severe storms
Why do you do chase storms?
I chase severe weather to experience the unique power, beauty and enormity of storms and capture these dynamic moments on camera
What is a supercell?
A supercell is a thunderstorm with a persistent rotating updraft. These powerful storms are capable of producing many forms of severe weather including lightning, large hail and damaging wind and tornadoes
What is a tornado?
A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air associated with a storm and in contact with the ground. Tornadoes can vary in size, shape, longevity and power. They are often associated with supercell thunderstorms and can produce the strongest winds on earth.
What camera do you use?
I use a Canon 6D full frame slr camera for my photography and some video and it's a great camera for capturing the dynamic lighting and colour range of stormscapes but the most important photography equipment are the lenses. I use a range of lenses including: Canon 16-35 f2.8L, Canon 17-40 f4L, Canon 24-105 f4L, Canon 70-200 f4L, Samyang 14mm f2.8. For video I use the 6D as well as a Sony HD video camera and a GoPro Hero4 action camera.
What is a Raw photo?
Raw is a file format that many advanced cameras can use to capture all image data (dynamic range of light in shadows and highlights, detail, contrast, colour etc ) recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. If a photo is taken in Raw it often looks flat, dull and lacks colour, contrast and clarity straight out of the camera but all that detail can be retrieved through post-processing. If the photo is taken in jpeg format, the preset processing formulas built into the camera by the manufacturer take over and the processing is done for you, often resulting in poor results, compression of the file and lost data that cannot be retrieved. Storm scenes present difficult challenges for photographers to deal with due to the high dynamic range and contrast between dark storms and bright blue skies which makes shooting in raw format and learning post-processing techniques so important for storm photographers.
How do make your photos look so amazing?
I always shoot in raw format which gives me the greatest chance of producing a beautiful image and then I use basic processing techniques I've learnt over many years to retrieve the details from the shadow and highlight areas and re-produce the colour and contrast of the scene that prompted me to take the photo in the first place.
Are your images real or just photoshopped?
All of my images are post-processed using software on computer so in that sense they are photoshopped lol. I consider my images to be fine art or photo art due to the creative way I endeavour to take the images and then present them but they are in many cases reproductions of how the scene looked at that moment in time. After all, something unique or spectacular about that scene tempted me to take the photo in the first place. Perhaps it was the colours of the sunset poking through the storm and reflecting on the hail shafts or perhaps it was the iridescent bluish-green hail core or perhaps it was the crazy colours created by supercell lightning as it splits atoms in the clouds and dust to produce purples and pinks in the sky above.
How close do you get to tornadoes?
Every tornado is unique and so many variables determine how close you can get to tornadoes. I have been many miles away from tornadoes such that they appear dwarfed below the massive storm structure above them but I have also been within 200m of a large and very powerful EF4 tornado. The speed and direction of the tornado and available road options are often the main things that influence how close you can get to a tornado.
What is your most memorable storm?
It's a tough call to choose one amongst many incredible storms but my most memorable storm to date is the enormous tornadic supercell we intercepted after dark near Rapid City, South Dakota on 19th June 2015. The photos of this storm are incredible.
Is storm chasing dangerous?
Storm chasing can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced people. I highly recommend anyone who wants to chase storms but lacks experience to enquire with organised storm chase tour operators. Violent straight line wind, tornadoes, lightning, damaging hail and flooding rain are all dangers that may be encountered while storm chasing but in my opinion the biggest risk is simply driving on the roads.
Have you ever been scared?
Surprisingly, no I haven't but I can understand why others would be.
Where do you chase storms?
I mostly chase in the central corridor of the United States which is known as Tornado Alley but I have also chased in Australia and witnessed supercells and tornadoes here too.
How did you learn to photograph storms?
I learnt to photograph storms while chasing them in 2006 and apart from some professional advice in the early days, I have basically taught myself.
How do you photograph lightning?
Lightning photography can produce spectacular results and can also be great fun after a day of storm chasing. I use a sturdy tripod and an SLR camera that has a feature to lock the shutter open for a longer period than normal (for example 5 seconds) so the camera takes a long exposure (photo). Depending on the camera settings, after sunset and if it's dark, the longer exposure will remain dark unless there is a light source such as street lighting, vehicles, the moon or stars which may be in the shot or contribute some background or foreground light in the shot. If lightning strikes while the shutter is open, the light of the bolt will be captured in the photo too. Again, depending on settings, hopefully the bolt is exposed perfectly but there are many times where the lightning is overexposed or underexposed leaving you with a photo that is too bright or too dark!
What settings do you use to take your storm photos?
I set my camera to aperture priority mode for the majority of my daytime storm photos so I can control depth of field of the photos, and I set it to fully manual settings for lightning photography.
Have you ever sold any of your storm chasing videos?
Yes I have sold storm chasing videos. Some of my work was included in the National Geographic documentary 'Inside the Mega Twister'and has also been used in a German TV production.
How can I buy your photos?
You can buy a print of any of the photos displayed in the galleries on this website. If you wish to purchase a print, simply click 'add to cart'and when you are finished browsing, go to checkout and follow the simple instructions to purchase via a secure online payment system.