2 Apr
2012
By
Posted in: Patagonia    7 Comments

A Dark and Stormy Night

I’m sitting watching sheets of rain gust past me at 50-60 miles per hour over Lago Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Of course, I am safely ensconced in my hotel, protected from the raging gale outside. The majestic old building creaks with each blast, however, and I can hear and feel each rolling breaker of white-tipped storm-borne fury crash upon the shore. Just another day in Patagonia.

I love storms—especially when I am experiencing them safely from inside a sturdy building. Really nasty storms, like the one I am watching right now, are best enjoyed and not photographed. Before and after a storm, however, when the clouds begin to gather or break—at these times great photographs can be made.

I’ve been leading my Epic Patagonia workshop (along with Richard Bernabe) for the past eight days, and dramatic stormy light has been an almost daily occurance. Luckily, we have managed to escape really bad inclement weather until today (our first truly rainy day of the workshop). So far, we’ve mostly benefited from exceptional storm light, and made some moody and colorful images along the way.

Last night, a storm was breaking over the mountains at sunset (paving the way for today’s nasty gale, or so it seems). The light never exploded across the sky, but rather painted some high clouds with pastel colors. While many of the workshop participants were hoping for the clouds to kindle with fiery reds and oranges, I prefered the softer, moodier conditions. The clouds had character and definition, creating sweeping and dramatic shapes, and I enjoyed the stormy darkness.

The final ingredient involved waiting for the right waves to fill the space in the foreground with shapes and tones that related to the rest of the image. The wind, which has been pounding us for the past few days, did not disappoint, and I didn’t have to wait long to get what I was looking for.

Stormy conditions can often be difficult and challenging to work in. Sometimes you might wish you were back in the hotel sipping wine by the lobby fire rather than getting tossed about by the wind. Just remember—that wine and fire will still be there when you get back from your photo shoot, except that you’ll be enjoying a few hard-earned wall hangers as well.

"Storm over Pehoe" by Ian Plant

Lago Pehoe, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile (Patagonia). Canon 5DII, 24mm, ISO 400, f/11. 0.3 seconds. 

About Ian Plant (373 Posts)

Ian Plant's photographs and instructional articles have appeared in a number of books, calendars, and magazines, including Outdoor Photographer and Popular Photography. Ian writes a regular blog column for Outdoor Photographer online, and he is the author of numerous instructional eBooks and videos. Ian leads several photo tours each year.


7 Comments

  • What no April Fools craziness? Right. Wind is my least favorite kind of weather I think, especially when it just shears across straight blue skies, but killer breaking storm shot here and say hello to Chile for me- Nate.

    • Damn, I guess it was April Fools – lose track of time down here!

  • I love that you’re there and I wish I was with with you.

    Awesome shot, Ian.

  • Whoa talk about crazy wave action and amazing clouds! I really like how you’ve seemed to make such an amazing image from the conditions you were presented with. If it had been me, I probably would’ve have given up and went home. Excellent work! I look forward to seeing some more photos from Chile!

  • Ian, your detailed description of the Pehoe storm and hotel reads like a great mystery novel and makes one feel like they were there experiencing the wind and light! Sounds like a two-fist bump moment! Jim

  • Love the image! Great cloud color.

  • Cool Picture, Nice write up.