PORT Macquarie photographer Will Eades ventured to Tornado Alley in the United States earlier this year and returned with some stunning images.
The specialist storm chaser and weather photographer, Mr Eades also captures brilliant photographs of the Port Macquarie-Hastings area.
He received his first camera 12 years ago and has been looking at life through the viewfinder ever since.
“Although it’s only a hobby, I can still spend a few months planning a landscape shot and waiting for the perfect conditions,” he said.
“Believe it or not, my favourite photograph is actually of perfect weather. It’s an image of Tacking Point Lighthouse that I had planned for months to position the Milky Way directly overhead.
“When I checked my first test shot I thought my camera had fried itself - the sky was green. It turns out what I had captured, purely by chance, was a process known as Airglow.”
This phenomenon can produce greens, reds and yellows that are not visible to the naked eye, but in this instance, a long exposure looking south revealed what was hidden – and the result was breathtaking.
“Severe weather changes so rapidly when it’s unstable, so brilliant lighting conditions and shifting cloud structures can be fleeting – sometimes lasting less than a minute,” he explained.
“During that time you might only get one lightning strike – so it’s a split second moment in time that you’re trying to capture, or it’s gone forever.
“That’s the challenge and it’s also the allure of storm photography - the thrill of the chase, so to speak.”
As for Tornado Alley, a region within the Great Plains of the United States, the unique conditions mean that the frequency and severity of storms across the area reach extreme levels, earning it the name.
“I’ve been photographing wild weather for years in Port, but our conditions just don’t yield the same gigantic structures that you can see over there,” he said.
“Storm chasing through Tornado Alley consists of early starts and long hours driving. The longest drive we completed was 14 hours, and all up we did 12000 kilometres in two weeks from Texas to the Canadian Border in North Dakota.
“The pay off was intercepting and photographing some of the wildest and most amazing storms I’ve seen.”
The pay off was intercepting and photographing some of the wildest and most amazing storms I’ve seen.Will Eades
He encountered some local wildlife in Montana, when he stood right next to a western rattlesnake.
“I had my eyes on an approaching storm when, less than a foot away, the snake’s signature rattle sent me jumping sideways,” he said.
“I won’t be forgetting that any time soon.”
The best tip he could offer budding photographers was to‘take your camera everywhere’.
“Although I don’t follow this rule literally, my camera is always close by so I don’t miss an opportunity,” he said.
“Carry extra batteries, a lens cloth, and a compression bandage if you’re off the beaten track.
“If you want to try to photograph a storm, shoot it on approach or leaving the area – never when its overhead.”
Will’s best work is available at www.willeades.com, or on Facebook at Will Eades Photography.