Just as scorching temperatures are typical of an Australian summer, so are apocalyptic tropical storm cells after a hot day.
This summer, as apocalyptic clouds blanketed cities, social media has lit up with incredible photos of nature at its finest.
To make sure you get the best photo you can when the next storm sweeps overhead, we asked professional Sydney photographer Alex Marks for his secrets for getting the picture-perfect shot.
Here are his six tips and tricks.
1. Be prepared
“While often you just happen to see some amazing cloud formation brewing, most of the time you’ll know a few hours in advance.
“Because storms come and go very quickly, the more time you have to prepare the better – there’s nothing worse than running around looking for a memory card or battery!
“Recently I was so excited for a storm shoot that after sitting in traffic for about 20 minutes, I madly grabbed all my gear and ran towards the spot to set-up. I jumped over a small log, pulled my hamstring and fell over in pain, missing half the storm – trust me, prep pays. “
2. Get the angle right
While most scenes will make for an interesting setting when dealing with storms and lightning, Marks says: “It’s best to be in a position with a lot of open sky in front of you.
“If you have time to also position yourself to have a striking feature in the foreground, it will also give the image some perspective.”
3. Capture the lightning strike
It’s no secret that trying to take a photo of a lighting strike is a hard task, even the pros struggle to nail it every time.
“Lightning is a tricky one,” says Marks, “I’m still trying to nail the perfect lightning strike.
“It’s damn scary at times too! For lightning the shutter is often open for quite some time, unless you fluke it. The ‘rolling cloud’ is a little easier. It’s just comes down to positioning really.”
4. Rain is your worst enemy
“Try your best to get the shot before the rain hits,” Marks says, “drops of water on the lens are a big issue.
“Don’t worry if there is dim lighting, taking the photo with a long exposure will fix this. Keeping the shutter open for 5-30 seconds should do the trick.”
5. Editing can make the photo
“Editing is a big part of photography today,” Marks says, “it’s what makes a photographers style in a lot of ways.”
“But it all varies to the users eye, and really comes down to each to their own.
“Sometimes it’s less contrast, sometimes it’s more. Sometimes it’s more brightness, sometimes it’s less.
While he said that there’s no particular formula to follow, and the one key tip he would give would be to make sure the horizon is straight.
“That’s the one key ingredient.
“Others might also be not over exposing a shot, play around the tone, or the warmth of the images and the sharpening is a handy tool.”
All these things he says will help to “show mother nature at her peak!”
6. Instagram is good
Often when a storm strikes the only camera you will have on you is your iPhone – but that’s not a bad thing says Marks.
“While I usually use a Canon 5D III – with a wide angle lens such as the 16-35mm or 24-70mm, sometimes I use whatever is on me at the time, often my iPhone.
“And when it comes to Instagram there are so many options, to help you get the perfect photo.”
While he didn’t have a favourite filter, he said to choose the one that will suit the look and feel of what you are going for.
Now see the awesome storm photos Marks has taken, more of which are on his Instagram.
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