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Storm Chasing — How to safely photograph storms with impact (preview)

©Ryan Wunsch July 17, 2014 — I was driving home from Saskatoon, SK and originally thought I’d miss this storm, but when I next checked the radar I could see that it had formed a large line and was headed towards me. As I saw it approaching, 30 km east of Kindersley, I drove off the highway to try to find something for the foreground. This canola field had to do. Wind speeds were measured at 136 km/h and did a lot of damage to the farms in the area. I’m very happy I had a camera in with me.  Photo taken facing north, with the storm moving due east. Gear/Settings: Canon T3i, 21mm focal length lens, ƒ7.1@1/3 sec., ISO 200

©Ryan Wunsch
July 17, 2014 — I was driving home from Saskatoon, SK and originally thought I’d miss this storm, but when I next checked the radar I could see that it had formed a large line and was headed towards me. As I saw it approaching, 30 km east of Kindersley, I drove off the highway to try to find something for the foreground. This canola field had to do. Wind speeds were measured at 136 km/h and did a lot of damage to the farms in the area. I’m very happy I had a camera in with me. Photo taken facing north,
with the storm moving due east.
Gear/Settings: Canon T3i, 21mm focal length lens, ƒ7.1@1/3 sec., ISO 200

Story and Photography by Ryan Wunsch

The weather has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. My first memory of severe weather was hiding in the basement of my uncle’s cabin during a tornado at Long Lake, SK. My uncle had a panic attack and while the other adults were afraid that his behaviour would cause the little kid in the group to get scared, that little kid just wanted to go see the tornado and count the seconds between lightning strikes and thunder.

The first digital camera I owned was purchased in 1999. Small, low-quality pictures were stored on a 3.5’’ floppy disk. I soon began chasing some local summer storms with an old, beat-up Ford Bronco that was normally used for transporting my great dane. I had very little knowledge of severe storms and would often drive right into the core of the storm to see how large the hail was. Thinking about some of those risky behaviours and uneducated decisions made back then I realize I was fortunate to have avoided getting into trouble.

Each summer in Canada the thunderstorm season peaks in June, July and August. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba receive the majority of the severe thunderstorms. Southern Ontario and Quebec are also very active during the same months.

Dramatic skies of any kind are my favourite backdrop for a photograph. Sunsets, the aurora, stars and interesting clouds over the Prairies are what I like best, but nothing beats the adrenaline rush of spotting some good storm clouds and getting that perfect shot.

To read more of Ryan Wunsch’s feature article on “Storm Chasing” to find out how to safely photograph them with impact, please purchase a copy of the Summer/Fall 2015 issue, or to never miss an issue please subscribe today!

 

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