Murray Fox is a weather photographer.
His goal is to capture nature at its most awesome and scary.
Creating a unique image is very satisfying for him but he also enjoys sharing his images with others and is happy to share his tips and ideas on his blog, murrayfox.com.au.
Ipswich First caught up with Mr Fox to find out what makes a really good weather image and how you too can have a go.
“I started about five years ago, I had some friends who were doing it, so I thought I’d go along. I’ve been hooked ever since” Mr Fox said.
“I had mostly done landscapes but chasing a storm is a different kettle of fish.”
In the build up to a storm, Mr Fox is glued to social media, he is scanning his favourite weather apps, searching the radar, tracking the lightening.
“Then I have to second guess nature.” Mr Fox said.
He makes a judgement call, sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.
Mr Fox finds anywhere between Ipswich and Boonah to be the best spots for storm pictures.
“Most of our storms come from the west or south-west. Once they come over the range, you never know which direction they might go,” Mr Fox said.
“The best pictures usually show the structure of the storm so you want to get ahead of it. Also it is helpful if the light is either behind or to the side of you.
Mr Fox has had his share of close encounters.
“The first super cell I had encountered was in November 2016. I first saw it at Colleyville, it was rotating very rapidly and had an amazing looking structure,” Mr Fox said.
“When the outflow (the air that flows outwards from a storm system) started to hit us hard, I knew it was time to leave.
“We jumped in our cars and were heading towards Ipswich on the back roads around Mt Walker.
We were doing the speed limit and we could not get far enough ahead of the storm to stop and get any more pictures.
“It chased as all the way into the Redbank Plaza undercover car park. That’s where it caught us. We only got through by the skin of our teeth. That was a hell of a storm.”
Falling in love with landscape photography in 2012, he has since won the Ipswich Enviroplan Photographic competition in 2015 and backed this up with a category win in 2016.
His Facebook and Instagram pages display a wide variety of his work, and his Blog shares his journey and details a lot of information for others to enjoy.
1. Safety is number one. If there is lightening in the area you have to be extremely careful. I’ve had lightning strike in the next paddock over even though the storm was still 30 kilometres away.
A lot of the times I’ll have the camera out of the car, but I will be sitting in it. It offers more protection than standing in an open field. Always have a retreat plan.
2. If you want to have a go, start out close to home because you know the area. It’s an easy safe spot to get back to. Watch out for hail.
You can tell be the colour of the storm. If it’s green or deep blue tinge to it, get your car under cover.
3. You want to have a good general grasp of photography. You need to be focused on where the storm is going and stay ahead of it.
You don’t have time to be worried about your camera settings. That really needs to be second nature.
*Captions below for the picture gallery at the top of the article in Murray Fox’s words:
Redbank Plains storm – The Redbank Plains bolt is my most recent lightning capture and was again wildly popular on Facebook and elsewhere.
This ended up in the Courier Mail. What originally looked like a slow moving system, really accelerated very quickly, and because it was moving so fast, there was only time to capture one lightning bolt, and this was it.
The Redbank Bolt is one of my lightning portrait series you can see on my website at http://murrayfox.com.au/.
These are close, intimate shots of bolts, exhibiting their amazing beauty. These shots really excite me when I capture them as it’s not often you get the chance to see them like this.
The Colleyville Supercell photo is from that system that chased us all the way back to Ipswich.
Luck was with me and I got a perfectly timed shot with twin bolts coming out of the front of the rapidly moving system before having to jump in the car and run.
Lowood storm – This storm cell was moving incredibly fast and it was difficult to stay ahead of it. I darted down a dirt side road and to my absolute delight I saw this simple single tree with cows huddling around it. After I captured this photograph, I was trapped by torrential rain that reduced visibility to zero for over 30 minutes. This is the photo that kicked off my Fine Art collection, to me this is the definition of the calm before the storm, and those cows are really out of luck. I had to let this storm roll over me and the amount of rain that fell was so intense, I couldn’t see my bonnet for 15 minutes.
A selection of my Fine Art Storm photographs saw me rank 11th in the 2018 Australian Photographer of the year – Landscape Category run by Australian Photography Magazine, an achievement I’m super proud of as it’s the culmination of years of work, and will be ongoing for as long as I’m able to take photographs.
Flinders Peak super cell- This was the result of being at the right place at the right time. I saw this system appear on the radar but had no idea of just how big it was. As I drove towards it I was in shock at what I was seeing in front of me. I stopped at a spot I have visited before, setup my camera, captured this photograph, then drove away as fast as I could.
This monster was by far the biggest super cell system I’ve ever witnessed. Flinders Peak Cell was an immensely huge system spanning dozens of kilometres wide. At the very base of the front you can just see Flinders Peak, which gives you some sort of idea on just how big this system was. Thankfully, it broke up as it approached Ipswich and didn’t cause any damage.
Harrisville storm – With the clouds roiling, lightening crashing all around, the golden light happened as the sun set behind the system. I shot this in panorama, stitching together 6 vertical photographs, just to be able to capture the entire amazing vista. The Harrisville Sunset Bolt is my most popular lightning shot to date. This was an amazing scene with the sunset behind the storm, and extremely active lighting coming out the front.
The lightning was quite close and we had to stay in our vehicles and shoot out to stay as safe as possible. This bolt was a crazy flash and has racked up over 1100 likes, hundreds of thousands of views, and just on my page, let alone other weather pages that have shared it.