Unless you’re a photographer of course, in which case sometimes it means heading out ahead of the storm to photograph the front as it comes in. So off I went to Bryden, slightly East of the Wivenhoe Dam, to check out some potential photo spots and look for storms.
In my kit was my Canon 5dmkiii (still gazing intently at the iv), a 24-70 2.8 II, and a 70-200 2.8 II, as well as some LEE Filters such as the big stopper which is a fun piece of kit! And of course a tripod, this time my 3 legged thing as I was too lazy to carry about the manfrotto which is a lot bigger but probably a touch more sturdy.I also took along my recently purchased a Pluto Trigger, which among its many triggering modes, is able to fire your camera when it detects sudden changes in light (such as lightning or if you fired a flash independent of taking a photograph). I’ve been waiting weeks for some decent lightning so I could test it and bring the results to you all, so I was hoping this would be the one, but alas still no lightning!
Landscape purists might ask why I don’t have a wider lens for landscapes? Well I actually prefer to use my 70-200 for wide panoramas. It may seem like a strange choice, but I will explain a little later…
I started by investigating Mount Byron Road in Bryden as there is an abandoned school house along the road near a creek. Unfortunately the school house has collapsed and despite my attraction to the ruined and rustic, it’s a little too far gone. Continuing on to see what I would happen upon, I found too many dry creek crossings that would be very problematic with the storms about, so headed back towards more established road. There’s really no hospitality like country hospitality, this guy stopped to check that I was alright before heading on. I find this happens a lot in the country. Or perhaps I just have a clueless look about me.
You can see the rain pouring and being whipped around by the wind behind the storm cell’s front edge, and it was quite windy where I was standing too.
The panoramas in this post were all taken on a 70-200 by shooting vertically, and capturing a small part of the composition at a time. I do this hand holding it as I am pretty stable, and it allows me to do it quickly when I don’t require a longer shutter speed. I allow for plenty of overlap between each frame so that the shots can merge together well, and it also helps Adobe Lightroom complete the process automatically. Once I focus on what will be a key point in the composition, I switch the lens to manual focus so that it doesn’t search for focus throughout all the frames. This would ruin the merged photograph.
Ever since Lightroom added its panorama features I have been shooting a lot more in this way, as it has become so easy and quick to merge the frames seamlessly. All you need to do is select the frames which are ready to merge together, right click, select merge, and then Panorama. You can also skip the clicks by pressing CTRL-M as a shortcut.
After the storm comes a rainbow. Even if there is still a lot of rain falling!
The rainbow was fleeting and unfortunately I didn’t find any more interesting subjects that were isolated enough to capture the rainbow leading to them. Next time perhaps…
By shooting the scene with a 70-200 over eight to ten shots, rather than a 24-70 over two or three shots, I am recording more image data that will make up the final merged photograph. This means more detail at large sizes, and telephotos are good for making mountains more prominent, whereas a wide angle makes closer subject material more prominent. As an example of this detail, below is the top of the large tree on the left of the panorama above.
You can see some cheeky rainbow lorikeets playing on the branches, one acting as if it is on a diving board. It’s true that details like this would be lost for most viewing the photograph, but if I ever wanted to produce a large print, these are the tiny details that really make a print enjoyable over time. Although I don’t think I’ll ever print this photograph, I don’t like to limit myself while I am on location.
Overall it was an enjoyable storm chase. I didn’t create any of my best award-winning best work, but I’ll be even more ready when the right conditions and subject material align, and you can never create your best work sitting at home. Every shoot is a chance and an opportunity.