Chasing Storms: Photographing a Monsoon and Dramatic Lightning

Michael Shainblum, a photographer, has shared behind-the scenes footage of his captures of picturesque monsoon formations and a powerful and dramatic lightning strike. All shots were taken with a Sony 16 35mm f/4 lens.

Shainblum is a San Francisco-based aerial, landscape and timelapse photographer who is familiar with the unpredictable and sometimes dangerous weather conditions that nature can provide. He doesn’t recommend that beginners attempt it alone and has shared his advice to others who want to storm chase.

Shainblum, a storm chaser and photographer, starts by taking photos of a dry-out lake bed, also called playa, on a sunny day. He is joined by Nick Page, a friend and photographer. Crack formations were created on the ground by the dry weather conditions. Shainblum takes a few test shots to prepare for the storm, and then makes sure to take several photos of the scene to stack later.

To avoid regretting not having the additional images in post-processing, it is a good idea to take extra frames with different focus points. Also, make sure you get all corners sharp.

It can be overwhelming to choose what and how to capture the sun setting as the sky becomes darker. It is important to make a decision and then stick with it. A panorama, as shown above, is one of these options. It provides approximately 180 degrees of view, and required 18 wide-angle photos in order to create. Shainblum also took two rows of horizontal shots, which adds to the feeling of vastness in Shainblum’s final shot.

Shainblum states that storm clouds offer photographers an array of textures and colors to choose from. He captures both timelapses and still photos to make the most of the scene. But he also enjoys the view and the dramatic sunsets.

Shainblum made sure that his camera was set for a timelapse as the sun sets and the storm moves on. This will ensure that he doesn’t miss any important shots when the lightning strikes. To ensure safety, it is crucial to keep an eye on the storm’s direction and to make sure you are safe. Page and Shainblum have recommended to photographers that they join a storm photography group or to find someone who is experienced in reading storms.

They find another vantage point after the night ends with strong rain. It’s worth the effort and waiting to capture spectacular lightning strikes.

You can find more landscape videos by Shainblum on YouTube. His photography portfolio is also available on his website.