The Making of "Microburst"
Winner of our July, 2016 "Weather" photo contest
By Thomas in Photo Contests on Sep 14, 2016
I live along the southern shore of Lake Erie, not far from Buffalo, NY. We get some interesting weather here at times and since I live on the lakeshore facing west, I often have the opportunity to see approaching weather systems.
One evening I was walking to my car in the driveway and an unusual cloud formation over the lake caught my eye. I grabbed some photo equipment and headed to the beach. I saw what appeared to be a linear front of low lying clouds rapidly (very rapidly) approaching the shore.
All images were shot using an old, heavy and very sturdy Gitzo aluminum tripod with an Arca-Swiss Z1 head. I took one shot with a Pentax 67 using the 35mm fisheye in an attempt to capture the breadth of the cloud formation:
I next shot the approaching formation with a 75mm lens on a 645D. This image gives some idea of the view I had of this system as it sped toward me, I would estimate the speed at about 35 mph and I must admit to some concern as to what would be in this storm - hail, strong winds??
When the front reached the shore to the SW (my left) it was dramatic, but not spectacular (75mm lens):
I then used a 645 35mm A to shoot the front as it approached the shore to my right. A spectacular example of a microburst, or strong downdraft occurred, pushing down on the leading edge of the clouds and producing a visible effect on the lake surface. The unprocessed image needed some post processing:
Briefly my post processing steps using layers in Photoshop 6 were:
- Duplicate image for color correction and sharpening;
- Brightness layer, with some mask for the brightest portions of the sky;
- Curves, with a slight s curve to increase contrast;
- Exposure layer with the sky masked to brighten the water;
- Saturation layer to increase saturation (+2) and in multiply mode to increase definition in the clouds (opacity 45%, lake masked);
- A slight crop changing the aspect ratio.
In closing: I have been an owner and user of Pentax cameras since I bought a used Spotmatic in 1973.
- Tom (Thomas)