How far would you travel to capture the perfect lightning bolt? For some photographers, that answer is “pretty far”. This excellent short documentary released by ABC Australia shows the lengths some storm-chasing photographers are prepared to go to. And it’s fascinating.
Jordan Cantelo is one such storm chaser who travels thousands of miles across the Australian continent. His main directive is to capture that elusive lightning bolt.
After a night of chasing storms, Jordan can often be found sleeping in the back of his car. The whole storm chaser thing sounds romantic. However, the stark reality is far from glamorous.
The heartland of Australia is an unforgiving territory. Nighttime temperatures often hover around 104F and above. Just like the American mid-west and west, the Pilbara area of Western Australia North is very flat. That makes it ideal for capturing huge skies and wide panoramas.
You have to do what makes you happy. And for me, standing out in the middle of nowhere by myself under a thunderstorm, listening to the thunder roll in, the beautiful colors, the smell of the rain…that’s what makes it all worthwhile.
– Kylie Gee, stormchaser and mother of three
Jordan tells ABC News that his passion for storm chasing began when he was young. He would travel with his father, who worked in fire management. Keeping a keen eye on the weather is all part of the job in a country like Australia, which has suffered some raging bushfires in the past few years.
Jordan’s own work as a firefighter just cemented his fascination. But there have been some close encounters, apparently. “One [lightning bolt] landed about 80 or 100 meters away,” says Jordan. “We hopped back in the car pretty quickly,” he adds. “You get pretty close at times,” he admits, “but you get some of the great images by getting that close.”
Jordan says that he hopes the documentary will inspire people to get outside and explore and enjoy the natural environment, no matter what the weather. I always say that I’d choose a stormy day over a clear blue sky for landscape photography, and this documentary has just proven that.
It’s a great quick watch, with some beautiful stormy landscape images interspersed throughout. And it’s fascinating to catch a glimpse behind the scenes of some of Australia’s passionate storm-chasing photographers.