There has been plenty of storm activity across the Great Lakes this summer, but according to local photographers Martin Von Stoll and Kian Bates, few systems have put on a performance like the storm that hit the area on Thursday, January 14.
Despite living at opposite ends of the Great Lakes and having no contact with each other in the lead up to the storm, Martin and Kian were both keeping a close eye on the system as it moved north from Newcastle and were well prepared to meet it when it struck.
The two photographers agree that preparation is an important part of capturing a great storm shot and Martin remembers this system in particular showing a lot of potential.
"The conditions were showing a lot of lightning activity ahead of the rain - perfect conditions to photograph," he said.
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With Kian based at Pacific Palms, he was in the best position to greet the storm, so at 10pm he set up at Blueys Beach and spent 20 minutes capturing the lightning as it struck over Seal Rocks.
When the rain and wind started to set in around him, he jumped in his car and headed north to Forster's One Mile Beach to continue tracking its progress.
This storm had so much fork lightning and covered such a wide aspect that it was impossible to shoot wide enough.Martin Von Stoll
Martin also chose One Mile to shoot from because of the great south-facing vista the sand dune at the northern end of the beach offered, and so along with a handful of other keen photographers, the two men set about capturing the show.
Kian said it was the most active storm he had witnessed in the past two years.
"In a 30 second period there would be four to six bolts of lightning, sometimes more," he said.
Martin agreed it was a pretty dramatic spectacle.
"This storm had so much fork lightning and covered such a wide aspect that it was impossible to shoot wide enough," he said.
"It was a matter of picking your spot to focus on and then changing the angle as the lightning moved."
Neither Martin nor Kian limited themselves to shooting from One Mile, with both men moving around Forster-Tuncurry over the next few hours as they chased various shots.
Kian says there is a distinct thrill that comes with photographing storms.
"I love watching mother nature put on a show; it's the excitement of the chase and the adrenaline rush when it approaches and passes over head," he said.
Martin says there is also an inevitable element of danger.
"No storm is worth putting your life at risk," he said.
"I have often had to seek shelter at the last minute under cover or in my car and wait for the storm to pass over."
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But with a La Nina weather system in place since September and more storm activity predicted over the coming months, both photographers agree it's been a good summer for getting out in the elements.
"We have had about one storm a week since November," Kian said.
"This was definitely the best by far."
To view more of Martin's work, click here.
To view more of Kian's work, click here.
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