There are good and bad aspects to the growth in popularity of storm chasing. The good is that more severe weather is being observed and warnings are indeed able to be more accurate thanks to increased reporting — and let’s be clear, that’s more good than just about most any bad.
However, from a pure ‘chasing enjoyment’ standpoint, there’s definitely something to be said about traffic jams and crowded roads around storms. There’s also something to be said about taking photos that 100 other people also are taking from a similar spot of a similar view.
With that in mind, if you want to strive to create something that’s truly different, here are four tips to help your shots stand out from the pack in those crowded situations:
1 – Compose Differently
Too many people simply point and shoot — and that is sometimes even with high end cameras. What you should do with every scene is have a good idea on how to approach a shot. Change your angle, use foreground elements if they add to the picture’s story, and most of all just make sure you don’t simply go vanilla. The details matter — use your zoom and use your feet to get the best shot possible.
2 – Process Carefully
When it comes to storms as art, there’s not MANY ways to get it wrong, since art is kind of — you know — subjective. However, all too often people do go a bit too contrasty and/or too hot on sharpening/clarity which creates halos around objects. My view on post is you want a scene to appear realistic but with some pop. The best way to achieve that? Typically you want a good and varied bit of exposure within your shot, from whites to blacks. Viewer’s eyes will tend to stop and stare a bit longer.
3 – Position Uniquely
The other surefire way to make your shots stand out is to be where no one else is. I’m not advocating for a dangerous move — but rather a different one. It seems to me at least that many chasers tend to choose the same area to stop — there’s probably some complex crowd theory going into the why there. Sometimes it’ll pay to be further back (See the folks positioned way south of the storms on November 16) and sometimes it’ll pay to be much closer (See the folks under the updraft in Dora, NM this past May). It’s a case by case basis, but if you want unique shots you have to be somewhat alone.
4 – Expose Correctly
Nothing gives you more latitude on making your shots stand out than getting the shooting aspect of the photo right. If you don’t blow out or muddy up any of the image, you’ll have near complete freedom to create whatever look you want. Different people go for different ideas — but none of it matters if you aren’t paying attention to your histogram and exposure meter as you compose your shot. You absolutely have to get the exposure down first.
What about you? What have you found to work to help make your shots stand out? Sound off with a comment!