Whilst extreme weather conditions can make for the most striking of photographs, it is a type of photography that is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you are interested in documenting extreme weather with your camera, it is important to learn as much about it before attempting to do it.
If you see a storm coming, don’t just grab your camera and go. You need to consider the dangers of chasing certain extreme weather conditions and what you can do to keep yourself safe.
Photographing lightning and storms
Many photographers aspire to take the perfect lightning photo. No two lightning strikes are ever the same; they always hit different places in different ways, providing photographers with the opportunity for a unique, once in a lifetime photo opportunity. However lightning kills, so it is important to put your safety before your photography.
The best way to minimise the risk of you being struck by lightning is to shoot from a hard-topped vehicle or inside a building. You could either capture your shots using a vehicle window mount or set up your tripod and camera outside and use a remote control to trigger the shutter from inside your home.
Protect your equipment
Camera equipment doesn’t come cheap and if you leave it out in a storm, it’s likely going to get damaged. We recommend using a lens shade and underwater casing whenever possible. Many professional photographers say if you time it right, you can actually capture lightning as a storm approaches, before it actually rains, helping to keep your equipment dry and safe.
Photographing hurricanes and tornadoes
Although we don’t really get hurricanes and tornados here in the UK, many daredevil photographers visit other countries during hurricane season with the intention of capturing extreme weather images.
Whilst severe weather conditions like hurricanes provide the perfect opportunity to capture dramatic photographs, you have to consider the risk not only to your camera equipment, but to your life too. When it comes to photographing hurricanes, there is no guarantee that you are going to be safe, but if you are going to go out and do it anyway, keep the safety tips below in mind:
- Protect your eyes by wearing safety goggles
- Look out for flying debris
- If an evacuation plan is initiated, follow it! It’s not worth risking your life for a photograph
Protecting your camera in extreme weather conditions
There are a few things you can do to give your expensive camera equipment a better chance at surviving severe weather conditions. It is recommended that you shoot from inside, either from a window or car windshield. Granted the photograph won’t be quite as striking, but your camera equipment will be kept safe and dry (as will you).
If you are insistent on taking shots outside, we suggest investing in underwater housing for your camera. This is a type of protective casing that will keep water from damaging your camera. You may also want to consider investing in a rain hood to protect your camera lens against blowing rain.
Taking extreme weather photographs can be a real thrill, but it’s certainly not worth risking your life for! If you decide you do want to go out and capture lightning or other severe weather conditions on camera, make sure you take the necessary precautions to keep both you and your camera equipment safe. After all, there is little point in taking the perfect storm photograph on your camera if you are not around to share it with anyone!
Image credits: SlickChick170 and David Kingham