In the late 1960s, the Rolling Stones sang, “Oh, A Storm is Threat’ning / My very life today” to begin the iconic song, “Gimmie Shelter.” However, today the lines feel quite timely if you’re in the U.S., and particularly on the East Coast. Our thoughts are most definitely with those in North and South Carolina, as they deal with what’s expected to be torrential rains and flooding from Hurricane Florence. And it’s expected to inundate the region for days.
As a photographer and artist, storms have always fascinated me, particularly in how they form such dramatic extremes of light and dark tones while also obscuring most (but not all) color. But shooting photos in such settings is challenging and also dangerous. But I’ve admired photographers who worked hard at capturing the power and awe of such weather events, like Mitch Dobrowner or James Langford. Their work really depicts the force of nature.
Recently, I’ve been shooting my own depictions of cloud formations and storms, although far less dramatic than Dobrowner’s or Langford’s work. What has intrigued me is using my digital camera to take images one step beyond being just a still photo. I’ve chosen to capture the drama of an approaching storm cloud by using time-lapse photography to create video clips of clouds.
Here’s a group of clips I shot this summer. I used several different cameras to shoot these various time-lapse videos. Some cameras, like the Nikon Coolpix P900 superzoom point-and-shoot, had modes with set times and frame rates, which couldn’t be adjusted. These are similar to automated scene modes. Others, like the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 or the Canon PowerShot GX 1 Mark III let you select how many frames you could shoot—1 frame every 10 seconds or 1 every 26 seconds. These also let you keep the individual frames you shot.
Additionally, I used iMovie software, on my MacBook Pro, to put the video clips together and to add transitions between the video clips. I added original music (created with Propellerhead Reason software, which is a digital audio workstation, similar to Apple’s Garageband.) As you can see, adding music to a series of video clips can really create an intense vibe or mood.
Let us know how you might like to use time-lapse video or shoot atmospheric conditions with your DSLR or mirrorless camera, point-and-shoot or even your smartphone.