Monday, June 8, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Clearing/Impending Storms

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

There’s nothing quite as dramatic as an ominous sky boiling in fury and thunder. Likewise, as a storm wanes, a crispness and vivid sense of cleansing occurs. Both circumstances make dramatic images. Listen to the weather to hear when a change in conditions is forecast. Be it an impending storm or the end of a snowfall, it’s at the cusp of these events that spectacular natural phenomena occur.

Watching a storm roll in is a multi sensory experience. Visually, the sky begins to darken and clouds thicken. Bands of rain can be seen in the distance as they build in intensity threatening the landscape in a downpour. The air takes on a distinct musty odor beckoning you to take cover. Auditorally, a bizarre quietness, brought on by the stillness in the air, envelopes the surroundings except for a distant rumble of thunder. Gradually the sky becomes more and more dramatic. Recording these events produces unique images in that no two storms ever form in identical ways.

As a storm dissipates, a sense of freshness fills the air. Another, yet different multi sensory event unfolds. The precipitation scours the atmosphere removing pollutants. The repercussion is heightened visual acuity as everything is sharper to the eye. The smell is fresh and alive and the sounds of birds and other animals can be heard as they emerge from their hiding places. Witnessing this transition always inspires me to take a myriad of images.

When the sun is low on the horizon, an added bonus of an impending or waning storm is the possible formation of a rainbow. Rainbows form when the sun is 42 degrees or lower from the horizon and there’s moisture suspended in the air directly opposite the sun. Using a polarizer can increase the intensity of a rainbow, but it can also eliminate it. The effect is visible through the viewfinder so fine tune it as you see fit.


Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

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