I love a big blue sky and sunny days. It’s part and parcel of living in Australia. But I love bad weather days even more.
For Matt Fricker (@matt_fricker), as a landscape and severe weather photographer, getting out into the natural environment on a stormy day has many rewards. The drama of ever changing clouds. The dark and moody shadows under a rain storm. The brilliance and awe inspiring power of a thunderstorm. The vivid contrast between earth and sky. All these things make weather photography an exciting, challenging and rewarding adventure for him.
Matt’s Camera Bag:
I’ve only been seriously into photography for a few years. My first camera (which I still carry in my kit and often use) was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 compact. I also have a Canon 1100D and most recently upgraded to a Canon 6D.
One thing I have learned is that you don’t need all the bells and whistles to shoot great photos. The camera you have on you at the time is all you need. Sometimes, that camera is my phone.
I use it all the time when I’m chasing the weather, especially for panorama and 360° images. A phone is also great for posting photos directly to my Twitter feed or Facebook. There are also some great apps out there for keeping track of what the weather is doing. A tripod is also a must if you intend to capture lightning or landscape images. I would also recommend investing in a remote shutter release.
Finding the Right Place:
In Western Australia, where I live, I don’t have to travel too far to get great winter weather photos. More often than not the weather comes to me. Generally, if you pay attention to the media, you can get a fair idea when interesting weather might be heading your way. Chasing summer storms usually requires a bit more planning and lots of driving. It would not be unusual to rack up 600 – 1200 kms a day chasing thunderstorms through the wheatbelt region of Western Australia. This is where I do most of my storm chasing and I never get tired of watching storms as they move across the rural landscape.
The key to getting that perfect photo is often a mix between planning and luck.
To be honest, some of my favourite weather landscapes were taken from the side of the road. One minute you are driving along and suddenly you come over a hill and there it is. Having said that, I do have some special places that I constantly return to.
Sharing The Passion:
One of the great rewards for me as an amateur photographer is being able to share what I love doing with other people. I am lucky to be involved with a great group of weather photography enthusiasts from PerthWeatherLive, who just like me, enjoy getting out to capture mother nature at her best and worst. Besides having other photographers to learn from and share ideas with, there is the added security of knowing that if things get nasty on the road, you can call for help. This is especially true on those big chase days when there can be anything from large hail to flash flooding.
I will always encourage people to look up at the sky and enjoy the show. Its free, fascinating and fun. But there are some risks that need to be considered. For starters, don’t attempt storm chasing if you have never done it before.
Always go with someone who has some experience and pay careful attention to your surrounds.
Lightning can and does kill. In Australia, several people are swept away by flood waters every year while trying to drive through flooded roads. There is also the added risk of driving in torrential rain and strong, gusting winds.
Grab your camera and get out there. If you plan ahead and use common sense, there’s no reason why you can’t capture your own amazing weather photos. Good luck!
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