Photography and light is so much about the timing. You can have a spectacular composition but with no quality light you will be hard pressed to take a spectacular photo. Similarily you could have fantastic light but with no composition it will fail as an image as well. So being at a particular place at the right time as we know it is critical.
This particular morning I knew a day or so earlier that it was a chance for some dramatic light and skies with an approaching prefrontal trough likely to form and generate a dawn squall line or at least convective activity. As I headed to be that night things still looked promising so I planned to get up a bit earlier before work and get on a location on the coast that I love and put myself in with the opportunity to see and shoot it.

 As daylight came things looked promising ! a line of storms forming a squall line had developed as I had anticipated…it was sliding NW->SE as the pre-frontal trough moved east. In the pre dawn light…
I watched lightning some 35km offshore – just that bit too far off to bother photographing (IMO). The sky had a perect clear slot to the east that was just perfect for the rising sun to illuminate through…I was waiting with eager anticipation ! I had my composition…I just had to wait for some light ! The set up was potentially brilliant ! Keeping a keen eye to the east to see if my ‘clear slot’ would persist long enough for some light to peep through and illuminate the encroaching squall line and the clifs in my composition. It was so close !

 Then with barely 5 minutes before my beloved light would emerge the squall raced in ! winds well over 100km/h and torrential rain ! I saw it coming across the water…lashing it and whipping up whitecaps. I packed my gear away feverishly and started running back to my vehicle. Whilst running I could hear it coming and then WHAM ! It hit me with full force almost tripping me up with the initial gusts pushing me sideways and almost entagling my legs.

 Back in my 4WD I knew I had missed out by only minutes and I could now see the sun rising and the sky just glowing to my east ! So I attempted to punch through it and get in front to sneak a shot in on the way to work (which was this direction anyway). A few random bolts smacked down to earth several km’s to my left and right as I drove. Driving in these conditions and a lot worse is something I had become accustomed to after stormchasing all over this country for over 1o yrs. The sky glowed orange as it tried to peirce through the rain…huge dust squalls were been ripped up off the farmland after yet another dry year. With the roads wet from this rain the amazing colours bounced and popped off everything – it still looked ace ! Though I knew my chances were slim of getting in front and by the time I did the crucial bracket of nice light was gone…

Next time ! 🙂



‘chasing the light’  –  Canon 5D mkII

~ by Tony Middleton on April 23, 2009.

8 Responses to “timing…”

  1. haha what a story Tony!
    so bloody close. all you can do is laugh at it can’t you.

    brings me back to your summer snow.
    you planned, took a risk, went for it. and oh what a feeling when it worked! 🙂
    this time it just didn’t. but if you didn’t go you would have been wondering about whether you missed the greatest shot!

  2. it’s freaky how the most impactive of scenes hang in the balance of minutes – i suppose that’s why they are so impactive to begin with!

  3. Great story Tony, you had me on the edge of my seat. The photo says it all.
    Landscape photography can be extremely frustrating!

  4. the light is fading away very early these days too, i don’t get home from work til 6pm and the day is far gone by then. it makes chasing the light so much more tiresome.

    love the picture from the car

  5. * Stephen – very true mate, I always believe you’ve gotta be in it, to win it. So the more oten you are in it the more chances you have to ‘win’ it.

    * Cain – such is their nature. 🙂

    * Luke – Yeah I guess it can be, though I rarely get bummed out by at as I always looks it as ‘the experience’ rather than searching for the image if that makes any sense..?

    * Katie – yeah it’s like winter has closed in over the week-end ! eeep ! Cheers – it’s just a snap from driving. 🙂

  6. haha I like how you said ‘just a snap from the car’, ‘just’. Don’t underestimate simplicity. Sometimes it’s nice to keep it /real/ you know?

    Patiently awaiting for your next post

  7. Great story Tony, hehehe, the one that almost made it!! And sometimes it’s “the one that almost got away”.

    Some of my greatest shots have litterally been shot in seconds, turning up, sprinting to a location, quickly unpacking and setting up and shooting like a maniac!

    • I know what you mean Flemming – some of mine have also been in a mad rush but usually that comes after an epic adventure or planning to begin with though. Nature, weather and light will always do what it wants to do and not necessarily what we think or want it to. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: