Larry Treadwell  

Storm Coming by Larry Treadwell

January 2021 - Storm Coming

About the Image(s)

Approaching Storm

Nikon D810, 24-70mm, ISO 80, f18, 30 seconds, 6 stop ND filter

The weather in south Florida in the summer months is easy to predict. The day will be sunny, hot and humid with probable evening thunderstorms. This is especially true on the west coast where storms build in the Gulf of Mexico and arrive over the everglades as the evening drags onward. Thus, on a late summer evening I drove across the state and took up a position on an isolated beach. Prior to Florida’s losing battle with hurricanes several years ago there had been Australian Pines that dotted this particular beach. Now after the storms only stumps remained along with multitudes of sand fleas. Setting up on the beach I saw two storms building over the gulf. I have found the best method for capturing lightning to be pointing the camera, with a wide angle lens, at the expected position for a strike and then taking repeated and continuous exposures in hope that a strike occurs somewhere in your frame. Since it was not as dark as I would have preferred I used a 6 stop ND filter to allow for a 30 second exposure while using a low ISO to help control noise in the dark clouds. I had tracked the storm on the right but was only getting heat glow and no strikes. As the clouds thickened the area between the two storms began to show some strikes so I recomposed for that area by the tree stumps. Instead, the lightning cracked off to the far left of the frame, but at least I managed to get a solid strike. I finished the evening with far more flea bites than lightning strikes.

This is a nearly full frame image with only a bit cropped off the top. Personally I lie this version. However I have considered cropping from the right to make it an 8x10. The crop would be just to the left of the left stump. Any one have some opinions on this?

10 comments posted

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Excellent explanation of how to shoot this type of scene. Thanks.
Your suggested 8x10 crop would also look as good as this composition. I vote for both.   Posted: 01/02/2021 16:44:26
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks Stephen
The purpose of the DD groups is to improve everyone's photography. Therefore if my photos and write-ups help in any way I'm pleased. Thanks for looking.
  Posted: 01/08/2021 12:28:17

Bud Ralston   Bud Ralston
Larry - Love the way the ND filter smooths the water. As to cropping, you have a very powerful sky that I wouldn't want to lose. There is a mythical nature to the golden area above the dark clouds, especially with the two dead stumps and the lightning in the distance. Cropping to the left of the RH thunderstorm turns the photo into a tale for me. Zeus has come by and struck the two stumps leaving them in the path of the setting sun and is moving out over the water firing bolts as he goes. Love the photo!   Posted: 01/07/2021 15:59:48
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks Bud. I've long had an admiration for the mythological gods and frequently connect to them in my titles. Your mention of Zeus, brought a smile for sure. Like you I think the sky and the second storm adds a great deal to this image. I can also see your tale of Zeus.

Anyway, after reading the comments I've cropped some off the top because I do not like to bright white spot in the upper right corner. Meanwhile, I'll watch out for more thunderbolts.   Posted: 01/08/2021 12:44:43
Comment Image

Todd Grivetti   Todd Grivetti
Timing is always everything with lighting shots and you have captured this one beautifully. I'd like to see your idea of cropping out the stump on the right and leaving the one on the left as I feel it adds depth to the image. Both storms converging is pretty amazing as well.

The ND filter really helps create the smooth water and your exposure time is spot on. One I did notice when I enlarged the image is three specs in the middle of the cloud, likely from dust on the sensor. You cannot see them in the image as is. I tend to agree with Stephen about the sky. You have beautiful light coming between the clouds illuminating the stumps, so I would leave them as well. I played with the cropping a little and removed the right stump and brought up the bottom of the image to remove the beach just to the edge of the water providing a more diagonal line. I don't think there is any further need for adjustments.

  Posted: 01/08/2021 08:15:00
Comment Image
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks Todd

I appreciate the the crop effort. I could live without the second stump, but I don't like cropping that much of the beach off. It makes there remaining part look like an error-- at least in my opinion.

I thought the ND filter by flattening the sea made the violence of the sky seem more pronounced.

  Posted: 01/08/2021 12:49:02

Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Hi Larry. Masterfully done, as usual. I like Todd's crop on this with one big exception. I would try cropping the top to the point where only about half the big dark cloud in the upper left corner remains. I would crop very little, if any, off the sand at the bottom to achieve better balance to the image.   Posted: 01/08/2021 10:51:29
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Your suggestion about cropping the top and the dark cloud works well with my thought about the bright spot in the upper right. But cropping the top we get both. :-)

I do agree with you about the sand beach and not cropping that area.   Posted: 01/08/2021 12:51:44

Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Hey Larry I really like this one. Cant wait till summer comes to try some of this type of art. This is a mood setter with at twist. I love the juxtaposition of the smooth ocean and the violence of the storms. You would expect to see the seas all riled up with storms that close. I actually like the dark cloud high to the left. It adds drama to the storm. I am not so sure about the bright spot and may try to tone that down some. The beach I think is a necessary element to the image. It balances the image as Michael said and gives me the viewer a place to stand and watch the passing storm. I know that not everyone agrees with my pet peeve about that concerning landscapes images but it allows me to be a part of the image.   Posted: 01/10/2021 15:26:16

David Kepley   David Kepley
The lightning strike is dramatic and well captured! Love the late afternoon light you have as well. Compositionally I wish that the storm on the right was right between the two pilings. Then you would have had from left to right: storm, piling, storm, piling. Another option might be to crop off the right storm and piling. Then you would have storm with lightning strike and piling. Another thing I noticed was that there seemed to be a slight hallo around the piling on the left.   Posted: 01/11/2021 12:56:24


Please log in to post a comment