Storm Photographer Captures What Happens When 'All Hell Breaks Loose'

Photo: Photo courtesy of Mitch Dobrowner

Nasty thunderstorms send most people running for shelter. Not Mitch Dobrowner. When bad weather starts brewing, the Long-Island born photographer goes chasing after it.”Photographing a storm is something between a hybrid of shooting a landscape and shooting a sporting event,” Dobrowner tell us.

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It’s not just about paying attention to all the things that make a good photograph — exposure, composition, and focus. It’s about having fun “while all hell is breaking loose around me,” Dobrowner says of the biggest challenge he faces on the job.

Dobrowner started out by photographing landscapes of the American Southwest. It’s during that time that he found himself going after storm systems because of the atmosphere and lighting that it created, he says.

He teamed up with experienced storm chase Roger Hill in 2009, who introduced him to Tornado Alley. That’s where the most severe thunderstorms, known as supercells, are most common. Supercells produce strong bursts of hail, rainfall and wind, and often spawn tornadoes. They are powerful and unpredictable. 

On July 19, 2010, while tracking a monster hailstorm in Moorcroft, Wyoming, Dobrowner pulled off a dirt road to wait for the storm to come over the hills. He was able to squeeze in a few shots before the tables turned. The large cell began heading directly toward Dobrowner’s location, sending the  photographer dashing back to his van.  

“We were being chased by the storm — instead of us chasing after it. We attempted to get out of its way, and though we eluded its core, the town of Moorcroft, Wyoming was not so lucky,” Dobrowner says.

Head over to Dobrowner’s website to see more of his work.

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