Capturing Amazing Weather Phenomena

June 22

3 min. to read

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Pro photographer and storm aficionado Ken Sklute shares tips on capturing and using Luminar to post-process monsoon storms in the American Southwest, and tornados in "Tornado Alley."

I have been blessed to have been a professional photographer for over 43 years, photographing remarkable scenes and subjects all over the world.

One of my favorite photographic subjects is Thunderstorms. I first became fascinated with thunderstorms when I was 8. I would turn off the lights in the house and sit by the window watching each unique lightning bolt, one after another, strike and light up the sky.

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As an adult, I got reacquainted with thunderstorms when I moved to the Phoenix, Arizona area. During the monsoon season in Phoenix, almost every day provides an opportunity to experience magnificent thunderstorms.  The great thing about thunderstorms in the Southwestern desert is that they usually occur as isolated events in the sky. 

 I use the Tone filter in Luminar to bring out the lights and darks in the clouds structure to give texture and depth to the clouds. The highlights and luminosity controls help me easily bring the RAW file to its full finished glory.

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Cameras produce a lot of images in the course of a days' shooting, so when I’m processing the images I need to be able to make the enhancements I want quickly. I want to get away from the computer and back to shooting!

Luminar helps me do just that by making it easy for me to edit, enhance, and prepare my images for final output.

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 Before long, I started taking journeys to "Tornado Alley" in the heartlands of the USA to chase Tornados. I found that chasing tornado storms was very similar to chasing the summer monsoon thunder storms of Arizona.

The only real differences are how the tornados are formed, a significant increase in the miles that I needed to cover in days shoot, and a significant increase in the potential danger of the storms. 

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Photographically speaking, capturing the storms can be the easier part, and putting yourself in the path of severe weather becomes the real challenge. I don't mind it and, in fact it's often fun. However, be smart: You always need to have an escape route or two in place, and then simultaneously monitor the radar to watch the storm.

Written by

Ken Sklute

Pro Photographer

Ken Sklute has been honored as one of Canon’s Explorers of Light, a designation shared by only 51 top photographers worldwide. Ken has enjoyed a diverse career photographing people, professional sports, architecture, weddings and landscapes. Ken spends much of his time photographing, teaching and lecturing both Nationally and Internationally. During Ken’s 42 year professional photography career he has accomplished the title of “Photographer of the Year” in 32 out of 42 years in the states of New York, Arizona and California.

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